It's perfectly normal for a baby's skull, which is made up of several separate bones that will eventually fuse together, to be slightly misshapen during the few days or weeks after birth.
Yet, if a baby develops a persistent flat spot, either on one side or the back of the head, it could be a sign of positional plagiocephaly. Also known as flattened head syndrome, plagiocephaly can occur when a baby sleeps in the same position repeatedly or because of problems with the neck muscles.
Pediatric neurosurgeons at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis provide diagnosis and treatment options for plagiocephaly in newborns, infants and older children. We strive to educate families about the condition, explaining why it is not typically cause for alarm and outlining the best ways to approach it. Usually, one or more of the following approaches is recommended:
- Changing sleeping and resting positions
- Exercises: Many infants with plagiocephaly, especially those born with muscular torticollis, an imbalance of the neck muscles, will benefit from prescribed neck exercises, often under the guidance of a pediatric physical therapist.
- Corrective helmeting: For infants over three months old with a moderate degree of flattening, use of a corrective helmet is typically recommended. The helmet, which is a lightweight plastic shell with a foam liner, acts as a brace to redirect the growth of the baby’s skull.