There are many reasons for infants to develop a head shape deformity with the main one being pressure in one position after the baby is born. This is usually called ‘positional’ or ‘deformational’ deformity, either plagiocephaly (which means that there is an asymmetry) or brachycephaly (which means a wide head shape). This type of deformity is relatively common, affecting approximately one in thirty infants and can be treated using a TiMbandAir in early infancy to allow the head shape to grow back into shape as the brain grows.
Doctors usually say that plagiocephaly or brachycephaly is ‘only’ cosmetic. By this they mean that this is not a dangerous or life-threatening condition and not a condition that the UK NHS is concerned about. It does have cosmetic consequences though and it can be treated if noticed early enough.
Another, more serious condition which can cause a head shape deformity is known as craniosynostosis. Affecting approximately on in 2,500 infants.
A baby’s skull is made up of separate plates which are not firmly joined together, this is to allow the skull to compress as we’re born. The fibrous joints between the plates are called sutures and these remain open and flexible throughout childhood to allow the brain and head to grow. One or more of these sutures can close (or fuse) before it should, usually before the baby is born and this is called craniosynostosis.
What Should I Do If I Suspect That My Baby Has Craniosynostosis
This can be a serious condition and as it looks a little like positional deformity is can be missed. Technology in Motion recognises this and we know that about one in a hundred infants who see us will have an undiagnosed craniosynostosis.
There are six main suture lines at the top of a baby’s head and it’s unusual for more than one to be prematurely fused. Each one gives a different head shape and these are immediately obvious when a baby comes into clinic.
Things to look out for are when observing your baby head shape:
- An abnormal ridge across or along the head or brow
- A long narrow head shape with a wide or bulging brow
- A very narrow and pointed brow with a triangular head shape
- A brow which is flattened on one side with a wide-open eye on the same side and the bridge of the nose pulled to the same side as the flattening.
All of these are indications of the most common types of craniosynostosis and they can only be corrected by operation from a craniofacial unit. If you are concerned If this is noticed early enough, before 4 months of age, the surgery can be minimally invasive using a camera and a very small cut. This surgery only requires one or two nights in hospital and it’s comparatively easy on the baby. After the surgery, your baby will need to wear a special helmet for several months to allow the head to grow into a normal shape and to keep the suture open.
Older children will need to have more extensive surgery called cranial vault remodelling whereby the skull is reshaped by the surgeons. This is usually also the case for infants who have a genetic syndrome.
These indications are danger signs and you must seek medical help urgently with your baby’s head shape:
- Your baby might be very ‘fussy’ and restless
- Constant headaches
- Vision problems / blurred / double vision (although this is difficult to notice in a baby)
- Eye pupil changes
- Drowsy or lowered consciousness / vomiting
- Loss of movement in one side of the body
Older Children And Adults With Craniosynostosis
It’s very unusual for a craniosynostosis to be missed and for the infant to go through childhood into adulthood without a diagnosis. Reasons for this to be noticed are the symptoms of an increase of pressure within the skull known as raised intracranial pressure (ICP), headaches, visual disturbance, or development delay. Head shape deformities such as severe facial / brow asymmetry or a very long narrow skull are other side effects. These can only be treated by cranial vault remodelling to correct the deformity and give more room for the brain to function within the skull. All such cases should be seen by neurosurgeons or craniofacial surgeons.
If you suspect that your baby might have craniosynostosis, we recommend that you seek medical advice or you can send images or arrange an appointment to see one of our clinicians for advice. We can not directly diagnose craniosynostosis but we have close links with the hospitals who will be able to help.
For more information see: www.technologyinmotion.com/
Call: 0330 100 1800
Email [email protected] if you wish to send us images.