Do Baby Carriers and Car Seats Cause Flat Head Syndrome?
The dramatic rise in the incidence of baby flat head syndrome over the last couple of decades has largely been attributed to the Back to Sleep Campaign. Placing babies on their back to sleep is essential as a means of reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but if the baby is kept in one position, it can put continual pressure on the back of the head, which can eventually cause a flat spot to emerge.
How does plagiocephaly affect the head and face?
Plagiocephaly is predominantly identified by a flattening either at the back or to either side of the skull. As a direct result of this flattening, facial features can become misaligned and other issues may develop. The facial features subject to the most change include the eyes and the ears. As such, facial asymmetry is also regarded as a good indication of plagiocephaly.
Do cranial helmets influence ear position in babies with plagiocephaly?
In 2012, a paper was published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery exploring whether or not helmet therapy, such as TiMband treatment, influences the ear position in babies with positional plagiocephaly.
This is a question that we are often asked but it’s a difficult one to answer, as the changes can be so subtle.
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.
Torticollis (also known as wry neck) is a very common condition which can often develop into plagiocephaly. It is characterised by an inability to turn the head fully in both directions, and there may also be a head tilt towards the affected muscle.
As the muscles tighten and become cramped, pain and discomfort will often be felt, causing your baby to become irritable. In infancy, torticollis can develop in a number of ways. Firstly, newborns can experience torticollis due to maintaining a specific position in the womb or after a difficult childbirth. Acquired torticollis happens shortly after birth, either as a result of some shortening from the position that the baby has been lying in or due to bruising during the birth. However your baby has acquired torticollis, seeking a professional diagnosis and pursuing active treatment is necessary.
This informative blog post explains what to do if your baby has torticollis, helping to prevent the face and skull from growing unevenly, and improving the range of motion of the head and neck of your baby.
Since the Back to Sleep Campaign, there has been a dramatic rise in the incidence of plagiocephaly, and thus demand for treatment. Increasingly, parents are looking to specially moulded plagiocephaly helmets in order to treat the condition – only to discover that the NHS refuses to fund this kind of treatment. In fact, it is almost unheard of for parents to obtain a plagiocephaly helmet on the NHS.
Why is it that, in spite of mounting pressure from parents, private clinics and the press, the NHS is still refusing to change its stance on plagiocephaly helmets?
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.
The truth about pillows for flat head syndrome
The incidence of flat head syndrome has soared since the Back to Sleep (AKA Safe to Sleep) campaign, and increasingly, parents have been looking for new ways to prevent and correct the condition. Pillows for flat head syndrome are one of the cheapest and most readily available options, but do they actually work (and crucially, are they safe)? (more…)
Baby head shapes: what’s normal and what isn’t?
Many of the parents who come to see us are anxious about the shapes of their babies’ heads. We are often asked things like ‘what should a baby’s head look like?’ and ‘how severe a flattening is too severe?’, so we thought we might put a few minds at rest by answering some of these questions here. (more…)
What are the advantages of choosing a plagiocephaly helmet over conservative (repositioning) therapy?
Plagiocephaly helmets offer a safe and non-invasive treatment for asymmetrical and unusually wide head shapes. They do not interfere with development and work similarly to the teeth bracing worn by older children and young adults. This post explores the benefits of a plagiocephaly helmet to help you decide on the best course of action for your baby. (more…)