If you suspect that your baby might have positional plagiocephaly, naturally you’ll be wondering how severe the deformity is relative to other infants, and whether or not you should seek treatment. But how is plagiocephaly measured, and what system is used as a severity assessment for Plagiocephaly? (more…)
What is Deformational Plagiocephaly?
Deformational plagiocephaly, also referred to as positional plagiocephaly and flat head syndrome, is a condition upon which an infant’s skull appears flattened either at the back or to either side. This flattening is predominantly caused by continued external pressure to the skull when the infant lies with the head in the same position for prolonged lengths of time. However, other causes include: multiple, premature and assisted birth.
There are two types of deformational plagiocephaly, posterior deformational plagiocephaly (PDP) and frontal deformational plagiocephaly (FDP). As their names suggest, posterior deformational plagiocephaly refers to a flattening at the back of the head while frontal deformational plagiocephaly is characterised as a flattening which is most noticeable at the front of the head.
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.
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.
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?
The Link Between Flat Head Syndrome and Visual Defects
As flat head syndrome in babies has continued to rise, so too has speculation regarding a possible link between flat head syndrome and visual defects. Head shape deformities are thought to be linked to an increased likelihood of developing conditions like strabismus (eye misalignment) and anisometropia (significantly different prescriptions in the two eyes). But what is the nature of this relationship? Does flat head syndrome affect the eyes directly, or is the situation more complex?
Forums like BabyCenter reveal that many parents are concerned about a potential link between plagiocephaly and development delay. It seems that a number of children who have experienced plagiocephaly can also have other neurodevelopmental issues but with little research conducted in this area, a cause-and-effect relationship between plagiocephaly and neural development can be difficult for parents and healthcare professionals to establish.
Many parents that contact us or visit us at our clinics often ask “what’s a normal head shape for a baby?” and “how can I tell if the flattening is plagiocephaly?” Although we would always advise that you visit one of our leading orthotists for a professional diagnosis if you are concerned about your baby’s head shape, this blog post offers some key indicators for recognising plagiocephaly and the steps you can take to treat the condition.
Following a diagnosis of plagiocephaly, parents often carry out extensive research online to try and understand exactly how the condition affects the brain or seek out clinical online studies to help them decide whether to treat and which treatment option will have the best results for their baby. (more…)
In many cases, flat head syndrome will self correct through repositioning, bringing it within the normal and acceptable range. However, where infants have moderate or severe flat head syndrome, this is unlikely to improve significantly without further intervention.
The question is, what constitutes mild, moderate and severe flat head syndrome? (more…)