If your baby has a wider than normal head with the flattening across the back of the skull – then it is possible that he or she will have brachycephaly. This is a form of ‘flat head syndrome’. At about eight weeks of age, you’ll notice that your baby’s head seems slightly wide, or that an ear is pushed forward on one side, or that the brow is more prominent. In some cases, brachycephaly will require treatment such as repositioning or a flat heat syndrome helmet. The most suitable treatment option will depend on the age of the baby and the severity of the condition.
It is possible that your baby may have plagiocephaly, another variant of flat head syndrome. A ‘Plagio’ baby has an asymmetry of the head shape – typically one side of the head is flatter than the other. Many babies will have a combination of both plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, with a wide head shape that is more flattened to one side. Scaphocephaly is a variant of craniosynostosis, in which the head is narrower than normal from back to front.
In deformational brachycephaly there is no asymmetry, but the width of the head is much wider than usual. The back of the head will be flattened and taller than normal and the brow may be much more forward than usual.
Babies with plagiocephaly tend to develop a ‘parallelogram-shaped’ skull, with flattening of back of the left or right side of the skull, frontal bossing on the same side as the flattening and bulging on the opposite side at the back. There is sometimes a tendency to only look in one direction as the neck muscles may be tighter on this side. This is called torticollis and requires therapy to help correct it.
Brachycephaly is typically caused in the early months of your baby’s life, when the skull is still soft enough to mould. The skull can start to flatten because your baby is sleeping on the back every night, as per the recommendations of the NHS.
PLEASE NOTE: It is important that you continue to place your baby to sleep on its back at night, as this will help minimise the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
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