Key Differences between Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly

Key Differences between Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly

Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly are two of the most common types of flat head syndrome diagnosed every year in the UK. Although the causes are the same, the two conditions describe very different head shapes and it’s important to differentiate the two in order to achieve the best results for your baby.

This blog post establishes the key differences between Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly so you can take the next steps in finding the right treatment.



Pronounced brake-ee-kef-alley, the condition refers to a head shape which is disproportionately wide compared to the depth.

If your baby has Brachycephaly, you will notice that the flattening appears across the back of the skull, causing the head shape to appear much wider than usual. You may also notice that the back of the head may be taller than normal and in some cases this may cause a bulging in the brow area towards the front of the skull.

Brachycephaly is usually seen in the first few months of a baby’s life when the skull is still soft, malleable and susceptible to external pressures. There are a number of causes of the condition identified in this informative blog post which explains Brachycephaly in more detail and how the condition can be effectively treated.




Pronounced play-gee-oh-kef-alley, Plagiocephaly is the most common type of flat head syndrome and refers to an asymmetric head shape with a flattening to one side of the head.

Often compared to the shape of a parallelogram, an oblique slant appears on the surface of the skull with the flattening appearing on either the left or right side.

Classifying the severity of Plagiocephaly can be difficult without carrying out a clinical assessment, however the most common form of Plagiocephaly is diagnosed as positional Plagiocephaly. There are a number of other symptoms to look out for aside from the flattening and these include:

-Misalignment of the ears. This happens as a result of the ears and cheeks being pushed forward on the flatter side of the head.

-Facial asymmetry and the eyes differing in size and position (one eye can appear lower or smaller than the other eye). This can also cause the brow area to bulge outwards.

A combination of Brachycephaly and Plagiocephaly can also commonly be found together, presenting itself as a wide, asymmetric head shape.


There are key differences between Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly however many of the babies we see at our clinics throughout the UK have a combination of the two. This doesn’t mean that your baby is suffering from two separate conditions, the terms Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly are simply the clinical expressions to describe in more detail the type of flattening that your baby may be suffering from.

Although flat head syndrome is the umbrella term for the condition, it can be easy to define every flattening as such. This often leaves parents feeling confused and nervous at the thought of treating the condition as they have no real clarification of what exactly their baby is suffering from.

We understand that there is often poor and conflicting advice online and that’s why we offer a free, no-obligation clinical assessment of your child to provide reassurance and clear advice at what can be a difficult time rather than seeking to take advantage of your distress. We can give you a clear and honest appraisal of your baby’s needs because without knowing where you are starting, it’s impossible to know where you’re heading. We always quantify every individual head shape so that we know just where to allow the head to grow and correct itself.

If you wish to book an appointment with one of our expert and professional clinical orthotists, or wish to find out more about Plagiocephaly or Brachycephaly, please contact us online or by phone. We will be able to answer any questions you may have and advise you on the best form of treatment for your baby.

Back to Blog Previous post Next post