Flat Head Syndrome, medically termed plagiocephaly, is a common condition affecting many newborns. While the name might sound alarming, it’s important for parents to understand that with early detection and proper care, it’s typically treatable. This article aims to guide you through the early signs to watch for, offering peace of mind and empowering you with knowledge.

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Flat Head Syndrome occurs when a baby’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area due to sustained pressure. It’s often seen in two forms: positional plagiocephaly, where there’s flattening on one side of the head, and brachycephaly, where the flattening occurs at the back of the head. This condition arises from external pressures on an infant’s soft, malleable skull, particularly when they lie in the same position for a long time.

Flat Head Syndrome, medically termed plagiocephaly, is a common condition affecting many newborns. While the name might sound alarming, it’s important for parents to understand that with early detection and proper care, it’s typically treatable. This article aims to guide you through the early signs to watch for, offering peace of mind and empowering you with knowledge.

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Flat Head Syndrome occurs when a baby’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area due to sustained pressure. It’s often seen in two forms: positional plagiocephaly, where there’s flattening on one side of the head, and brachycephaly, where the flattening occurs at the back of the head. This condition arises from external pressures on an infant’s soft, malleable skull, particularly when they lie in the same position for a long time.

Early Signs and Symptoms
The key to mitigating Flat Head Syndrome is early detection. Look out for:
• Flattening on one side of the head or at the back.
• Asymmetrical ear alignment.
• A bald spot or less hair in one area of the head.
• Visible bulging on the side of the head.
• Preference for turning the head to one side.
• Parents might notice these signs within the first few months of a baby’s life, especially when viewed from above.

Causes and Risk Factors
Understanding what contributes to Flat Head Syndrome can help in its prevention. Some babies have a higher risk due to factors such as:
• Prolonged time spent lying on their back.
• Restricted movement in the womb or birthing canal, commonly seen in multiple births or breech babies.
• Premature birth, as their skulls are softer and more prone to flattening. Especially in the NICU, when a baby is unable to be repositioned frequently.

Prevention and Early Intervention
Prevention is often simple and effective. Consider:
• Regularly changing your baby’s position.
• Providing plenty of supervised tummy time when they are awake.
• Ensuring a proper fit and positioning in car seats, carriers, and swings.
• Regular check-ups with a pediatrician are crucial, as they can detect subtle signs and suggest early interventions.
• Baseline head scan to capture baby’s head shape and tack shape over several months to determine if the shape changes. This image can be obtained through your orthotic professional.

Treatment Options
The treatment is usually straightforward if your baby is diagnosed with Flat Head Syndrome. Options might include:
• A customized helmet will help shape the baby’s skull as they grow.
• Repositioning techniques encourage the baby to lie on the non-flattened side.
• Physical therapy exercises to address any associated muscle tightness or developmental delays.
Observing your baby for signs of Flat Head Syndrome and acting promptly can lead to excellent outcomes. Remember, every baby is unique, and if you have concerns, your healthcare provider is your best resource for personalized advice.

With proper care and attention, Flat Head Syndrome can be just a tiny bump in the road of your child’s healthy development. Call the Cranial Center at 800 685 9116 to schedule a free consultation.

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