Study to investigate the behavioural, cognitive and neurological impairments associated with craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly


In 2012, we received a piece of news regarding USA research on craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly. This article highlighted the Department of Pediatric Psychiatry at Seattle Children’s Hospital’s participation in an NIH-funded study of the neurobehavioral correlates of craniosynostosis. This craniofacial disorder is characterized by the premature fusion of two adjoining plates of the skull, which result in malformations and dysmorphology of the head in the absence of corrective surgery.

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Torticollis, sometimes referred to as wryneck, comes from the Latin words tortus (twisted) and collum (neck). Infants who have the condition have their head turned and tilted to one side and they struggle to move their head to the opposite side. This blog post explores torticollis in more detail, the different severities of the condition and how to find effective treatment for your baby.

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Scaphocephaly is the word used to describe a narrow head shape and can be associated with flat head syndrome. The umbrella term for a long thin head shape is referred to as dolicehocephaly, scaphocephaly is caused by the early fusion of the sagittal suture which runs from front to back at the top of the skull. Early fusion of a suture in infancy is called a synostosis and this type is the most common form of craniosynotosis.
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Before and after scans for plagiocephaly treatment

Positional plagiocephaly is often called deformational plagiocephaly, and this shows as a flattening on one side of the back head. It’s caused by external pressures to the skull during infancy and can develop either before or after the baby is born. Parents tend to notice a flattened area before the age of 3 months and it can be caused by the infant staying in one position for too long when the skull is particularly soft and flexible.

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Mini Directory of Plagiocephaly Advice and Support Websites

Plagiocephaly advice and support

Having a baby with flat head syndrome can feel rather overwhelming at times. While the condition is not proven to have a negative effect on development, it can still be distressing for parents who, naturally, want what is best for their little ones. But you are not alone. In the UK, plagiocephaly affects around half of all babies under the age of one to some degree.


No matter what stage of the plagiocephaly journey you and your family are at, there are several fantastic resources out there which you can turn to for plagiocephaly advice and support. Whether you wish to share your experiences with other parents or seek advice on plagiocephaly from the experts, this mini directory will help you find the right places to go in times of need.
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What is Craniosynostosis?

December 26, 2016

What is Craniosynostosis?What is craniosynostosis and how is it treated?

Craniosynostosis is often confused with plagiocephaly as they are both conditions that affect the growth and shape of a baby’s head. It is, however, important to understand how to differentiate craniosynostosis as it requires a specialist form of treatment.
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With Christmas around the corner, the wintry weather has finally arrived and the temperature has begun to fall. Many parents often ask us what type of headwear should be worn to keep their baby’s head warm whilst out and about and the best ways to keep their baby comfortable. This blog post offers advice and information to help keep baby warm during winter without causing them to overheat.




Wearing winter hats during plagiocephaly treatment. Plagiocephaly helmets are made from a resilient foam liner encased by a lightweight co-polymer shell which provides natural insulation during winter.

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Is Plagiocephaly Cosmetic Rather than Medical? (And If So, Why Bother With Treatment?)

The majority of children with plagiocephaly are unable to get helmet treatment on the NHS. Instead, parents are sent home and told to ‘wait and see’ whether their child’s condition will or will not improve on its own. Conversely, American babies are offered helmet therapy as a standard intervention for moderate to severe skull flattening. This begs the question: is plagiocephaly purely cosmetic as British medical institutions claim, or could it be associated with developmental issues? And even if it is ‘just’ cosmetic, could this cause problems in itself? This post investigates the research that has been carried out to date, and answers some of the questions you might have if your baby has a flat head.

how to spot plagiocephaly
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You might have been shying away from telling your friend about their baby’s misshapen head. After all, it’s ‘only’ cosmetic, it’ll probably correct itself over time and you don’t want to upset anyone. Unfortunately, this all-too-common thought process has led to many babies with flat heads being left with a permanent, lifelong deformity.

Plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, is an increasingly common condition characterised by a flat spot to the back or side of the head. While its precise effects on early physical, cognitive and motor development may not yet be fully understood, early research indicates that the condition may not be ‘only’ a cosmetic concern. And even if it is, how do you think your friend’s child will feel about his or her head shape in, say, 10, 15 or 20 years’ time?

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Flat Head Syndrome and the Nature vs. Nurture Debate

Is flat head syndrome genetic?Flat head syndrome is usually attributed to external pressures on the skull. Consistently resting the head in the same position while sleeping, sitting and playing can eventually cause a flat spot to emerge. Flattening can also begin to occur before or during birth, often as a result of breech position or crowding in the womb, or when forceps are used during an assisted birth. But is flat head syndrome genetic to some degree, or is it caused exclusively by these external pressures on the skull? Read more…