What is plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly is a condition that causes a baby’s go to have a flat spot (flat head syndrome) or be misshapen.
The most typical type is positional plagiocephaly. It happens when a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to press on that area. Babies are vulnerable since their skull is soft and flexible when they’re born.
Positional plagiocephaly typically establishes after birth when babies spend time in a position that puts pressure on one part of the skull. Because babies invest a lot time resting on their back, for example, they might develop a flat spot where their head presses against the mattress.
Beginning in the early 1990s, parents were told to put their babies to sleep on their back to decrease the risk of SIDS. While this guidance has saved thousands of babies’ lives, professionals have actually discovered a fivefold increase in misshapen heads ever since. (See listed below for ideas on repositioning your baby to avoid both SIDS and plagiocephaly.).
More hardly ever, babies establish positional plagiocephaly when motion in the uterus is restricted for some reason– because their mom is bring more than one baby, for instance. It can also happen to breech babies who get wedged under their mother’s ribs.
Another kind of plagiocephaly is craniosynostosis, an abnormality where the joints between the bones of the skull close early. Babies born with craniosynostosis requirement surgery to allow their brain to grow appropriately.
The most typical cause of a flattened head is a baby’s sleep position. Because babies sleep for a lot of hours on their backs, the head in some cases flattens in one spot. Placing babies in devices where they lie down often during the day (infant safety seat, providers, strollers, swings, and bouncy seats) also adds to this issue.
Signs of positional plagiocephaly
Many vaginally delivered babies are born with an oddly shaped head brought on by the pressure of going through the birth canal. This typically corrects itself within about six weeks. But if your baby’s head hasn’t completed by age 6 weeks– or if you first discover that your baby has a flat spot on her skull after 6 weeks of age– it’s probably a case of positional plagiocephaly.
Plagiocephaly shows up frequently in babies who are reported to be “good sleepers,” babies with unusually large heads, and babies who are born too soon and have weak muscle tone.
Babies with torticollis can also develop a flat spot on their skull since they frequently sleep with their head turned to one side. Torticollis takes place when a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the chin to tilt to the other side. Premature babies are particularly susceptible to torticollis.
When to be concerned about a flat spot on your baby’s head
Everybody’s skull is a bit asymmetrical. And oftentimes, a flat spot on a baby’s head will round out on its own around 6 months of age, as she starts crawling and sitting up. Nonetheless, if you notice flattening of your baby’s head at any time, do not wait– talk with her doctor about it immediately.
A baby’s skull ends up being less soft and flexible as she grows. So if you do need to take steps to remedy the condition, the younger your baby is, the much easier it will be. Your baby’s doctor may refer you to a professional, such as a pediatric cosmetic surgeon or neurosurgeon for diagnosis and treatment.
Suggestion: If you notice a flat spot your baby’s head early on, you may want to take photographs of the top of the head from above on a monthly basis or two. Then you can see whether the flat spot is improving with time. These images may likewise be useful for your baby’s doctors.
Treatments for positional plagiocephaly
If a doctor figures out that your baby has positional plagiocephaly, his recommendations will depend upon your baby’s age and the severity of the condition.
If your baby is young enough and the condition is moderate, he’ll probably advise repositional therapy, a mix of simple procedures created to assist your baby’s head round out. In severe cases, cranial orthotic therapy (utilizing a helmet to alter the shape of the head) may be required. Keep reading to discover more about these treatments.
Repositional therapy includes routinely altering your baby’s position to prevent putting pressure on the flattened area of the head. (Babies tend to settle into the same comfy position in their crib and baby seats.)
Here are concepts for altering your baby’s position during everyday activities and strengthening neck muscles:
- Bedtime and naps: Alternate the direction your baby’s head is dealing with when you put her to sleep. To motivate this, lay her down with her head at a various end of the baby crib for naps and each night. If her crib protests a wall, she must naturally turn her go to watch out into the space. (Or you could hang a mobile outside the baby crib to attract her attention.) Vary the instructions she needs to rely on look and she’ll change the side of her head that’s pushed against the bed mattress.
- Care: Don’t use rolled up towels or positioners in the crib to get your baby to keep her visit one side. These increase the risk of SIDS and suffocation.
- Feeding time: Alternate sides whenever you feed your baby a bottle. (You’ll do this instantly when you breastfeed.) Adjusting your baby’s position during feeding helps avoid pressure on the flat spot.
- Sitting time: Prevent leaving your baby for prolonged periods of time in a safety seat, infant seat, baby swing, baby carrier, or other location where her head is most likely to rest on the same spot.
- Stomach time: During waking hours, supervised belly time is vital for the development of motor skills. Belly time also helps prevent plagiocephaly by strengthening babies’ neck muscles. Stronger neck muscles allow babies to move their head around while sleeping so it doesn’t constantly rest in the very same position.
To make sure your baby enjoys being on her tummy, seize the day to put her on her tummy when she’s not sleeping starting in the first couple of days of life. Babies who aren’t used to being on their tummy from the first day might need to be coaxed into it, starting with a minute or 2 at a time.
- Physical therapy: The doctor might also suggest day-to-day physical therapy exercises to help increase the range of motion in your baby’s neck. These need to be done carefully but consistently.
If these measures aren’t effective, the next step is to consider cranial orthotic therapy.
Cranial orthotic therapy with a baby helmet or headband
Babies with severe plagiocephaly generally use either a custom-fitted helmet or a headband (called a cranial orthotic) for about 23 hours a day to correct the shape of their head. This treatment usually lasts two to six months, depending on how early you begin and how severe the problem is.
Helmet therapy is constantly collaborated with physical therapy to attain the best outcomes. It’s most effective when begun around 6 months of age. Some professionals believe the headgear deals little help after 12 months of age since the skull resists reshaping as the bone thickens.
If your baby requires cranial orthotic therapy, your doctor can suggest a helmet or band and inform you where you can have it made. You’ll have to have a 3-D photographic image taken of your child’s head so the device can be custom-fitted.
Wearing headgear all the time may sound dreadful, but the helmets and bands are light-weight, and most babies quickly get used to using one.
This kind of treatment can cost up to $4,000. Some insurance provider will cover it in their orthotic advantages, however others consider it cosmetic or speculative and won’t pay. However, numerous parents have successfully appealed their insurance provider’s rejection and received payment in the end.
The success rates for this kind of therapy are high when it’s started early (around 6 months). If you’re starting late, your baby’s skull might not become completely symmetrical. Bear in mind that some asymmetry is normal. And as your child’s hair grows, it will likely conceal a few of the remaining flattening.