What you need to know about Flat Head Syndrome in Babies
Since the Back to Sleep campaign began in the 1990s, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is a fantastic result. However the fact that babies are now sleeping on their backs is causing a dramatic increase in the incidence of Baby Flat Head Syndrome. This can affect up to ½ of all babies who sleep on their backs. This is something that expectant and new parents need to be aware of so they can look out for it, as it is easily prevented and treated when the baby is still very young.
What is baby flat head syndrome?
Baby flat head syndrome is a common term used to describe a variety of conditions that cause flattening of an infant’s head. By far the most common of these are deformational or positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. These conditions are caused by repeated external pressure placed on the same area of the baby’s head, which causes the soft skull to become misshapen. In plagiocephaly, the flattening is on one side of the back of the head, while brachycephaly is flattening across the entire back of the head.
What should you do if you notice your baby developing a flat spot?
It’s very important to consult your doctor or qualified medical professional if you notice your baby’s head flattening. There are other more serious conditions, such as craniosynostosis, which need to be ruled out. Some of these conditions can only be treated with surgery. These conditions are rare, but you must get to the root cause of the flattening. It is also possible that there are related conditions such as torticollis, a tightening of the neck muscles, that could be contributing to the problem and must be addressed.
How is baby flat head syndrome treated?
Most cases are treated in the early stages using techniques such as increased tummy time and repositioning. There are some pillows and products available that can help you with the job of keeping pressure off the flat spot. This works best when started as early as possible, as soon as you notice any flattening and ideally when the baby is less than 3 or 4 months old. If the baby gets a little older and these techniques are not effective enough, then often a cranial remolding helmet will be required.
For more information on preventing and treating this condition, please visit our Baby Flat Head Syndrome blog (http://www.babyflathead.org/).
Sarah Davidson is a working mother of one, and writes about this issue on her Baby Flat Head Syndrome blog at http://www.babyflathead.org/.