We often have parents come and see us who are concerned that the misshaping of their baby’s head is a dangerous condition and that there’s something wrong or that their baby’s brain might be affected.
These are understandable concerns and new Mums want only the best start for their babies. The good news is that flat head syndrome does not affect brain development.
There are two things to consider, the first is the brain size and the second is the head shape.
Head size is dependent on the brain size and a young baby’s brain grows very quickly, doubling in size in the first 3 months and then doubling in size again in the next 6 months, with further growth and development throughout childhood.
The head shape is dependent on external forces which can either deform or reform. We all have some degree of asymmetry or differences in width of the head but about one in 30 babies develop a severe head shape deformity in early childhood and this can continue into childhood and later life. If this deformity is not corrected early, as the baby grows in the first year or so, it will not self correct to a significant degree later on.
The brain is a most forgiving organ and regardless of the shape of the protective skull, it will make the neural connections needed to function normally all through life. It’s known that in history up to even recent times, cultures and civilisations have been deliberately modifying the head shape of infants for tribal, cultural or hierarchy reasons. The current issue with head shape deformation is that the ‘odd’ shape that develops in the first few months of life is an unintended consequence of an infant lying in one position for too long, creating a flattening as the head develops.
A baby’s brain grows and develops from conception and at birth the brain is about a quarter of the size of an adult brain. We are born with all of our brain cells, no more are made throughout life and as the brain grows, the neural links are organised and develop so that we can learn and function as we need to in life. Early infancy is the time that our millions of cells, synapses and connections are made and the young brain is at its most ‘plastic’ ready to continue growing and learning. Before birth, babies are already learning, developing the nerve connections to muscles, heart and all the senses, touch, hearing, taste and sight and at birth we are ready to breathe, shout, suck and to even recognise our mother’s voice.
This amazing early growth rate is accompanied by developing connections to allow the processing a huge amount of new information and experiences to form a firm foundation for early and adult life.
As the brain grows, the skull must remain flexible to accommodate this rapid amount of growth and all the sutures remain open and the bones of the skull remain flexible, gradually becoming firmer right through to and beyond the point of skeletal maturity at age eighteen to twenty.
Bones do remain plastic and there is continual bone reformation throughout life and this is how bones can heal when they are broken. The skull can also continue to change and the ultimate head shape depends on the start point and sadly many infants develop such a severe head shape deformity that they will never be able have a normal skull shape.
When we treat a baby with fit a TiMbandAir helmet to a baby, we allow growth to continue at a normal rate. We don’t stop growth, for a short period of time we redirect the head growth where it needs to go, to bring about a greatly improved, corrected, more normal head shape.
By doing this early in life, we give the babies that we treat a massively improved opportunity to develop normally and to be able to engage in all activities that require head protection. Cycling, skiing, horse riding and in adult life, motor cycling, coasteering, being a tree surgeon, join the military, the police, or working in construction.
We know that we give the babies that we treat the opportunity to become the people that they are meant to be and enable them to have opportunities that they may not be able to if their head shape is not within the normal range. Our TiMbandAir helmet gently corrects the head shape as the brain grows in such a way that is safe for the baby and pain free.
You can read more about our TiMbandAir Treatment on our website.