Symptoms of plagiocephaly differ depending on which type your child may have. Common symptoms of the positional type may include:. If your baby has a misshapen head, your pediatrician will need to determine whether it is caused by sleep position or craniosynostosis. For plagiocephaly caused by craniosynostosis, treatment goals focus on correcting skull shape to relieve pressure inside the head and ensure enough room for the brain to grow.
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What Is Positional Plagiocephaly & Positional Torticollis?
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Positional plagiocephaly (flattened head syndrome)
Pediatric Plagiocephaly. What Is Plagiocephaly? If congenital plagiocephaly, which is caused by craniosynostosis , is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, including: Head deformities, possibly severe and permanent Increased pressure inside the head Seizures Developmental delay What Causes Plagiocephaly?
There are many factors that can contribute to flattening of the back of the head in a baby.
Positional Plagiocephaly (Flattened Head)
These factors can have an effect either prenatally or after birth. Babies with less room in utero are more prone to positional plagiocephaly. This crowding can be due to multiple babies twins, triplets, etc.
Premature babies are at an increased risk of deformation due to external forces because their skull bones are softer. This can lead to flattening on this side.
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In , the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that healthy term infants be placed supine lying on the back for sleep. However, the incidence of posterior positional plagiocephaly increased.
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Depending on the severity of the deformation, the ear and forehead on the affected side may be pushed forward. Your pediatrician may examine your child for distinct features that help make the diagnosis of positional plagiocephaly versus craniosynostosis. Occasionally, an x-ray or CT scan is needed to help make the differentiation.
Examination, diagnosis and education can be provided at this appointment.
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Your child will be evaluated for any associated problems, such as torticollis or strabismus, to assure that there is not an underlying cause that needs to be treated as well. If this is the case, physical therapy or a referral to an ophthalmologist may be recommended. The first recommendation for improving the head shape in positional plagiocephaly is changing your child's sleeping position.
Always place your baby on his or her back for sleeping. Lay your baby so that the head is at alternating ends of the crib.
Some babies tend to turn their heads towards the nursery entryway, and you can use this to your advantage when you position your child. Arrange toys, music players and mobiles in such a way that your child must turn his or her head away from the flattened side to enjoy them. Alternate the way you carry your baby to encourage head movement; change the direction your baby faces whether on your hip or in your arms.
Supervised tummy time when your baby is awake is also very helpful. A 3-dimensional image of your child's head shape will be captured, followed and compared at intervals by using cutting-edge technology. We are able to use software associated with this photography system to track the progress of your child and monitor whether treatment is working.
We can use this information to make changes in the plan. If your child's condition is very severe, or is unresponsive to positioning changes, a molding helmet may be recommended. If appropriate, the helmet is usually worn 23 hours per day for months before seeing appreciable and satisfactory improvement.