Plagiocephaly is a medical term for a head that has an abnormal shape. Flattened head syndrome is one type of plagiocephaly.
If not properly treated, these changes can remain for the rest of the child's life.
Babies have very little room inside the uterus towards the end of pregnancy and may get "stuck" in one position. Infants who are in a breech position (bottom down) or twins have less room to move around, but even single babies in a normal position may have so little room that they can't change position. Babies who stayed in one position in the uterus continue to lie in that position after they are born.
A newborn's head is soft and easily molded into a flat shape. If a baby lies on his back with his head turned in one position for a long time, day after day, the head can become flat on the back or on one side. This can cause the baby to have a crooked looking forehead and face.
You can start to see flattening as early as 6 weeks of age. You may notice facial changes within the first 3 to 6 months.
Your healthcare provider will review your child’s symptoms and examine your child. Many babies have some flattening, and most often, children do not need medical treatment for it.
Your healthcare provider will recommend that you change your baby’s head position. Often, this is the only treatment your child will need.
Sometimes special stretching exercises or positioning are needed for babies who have tight neck muscles or have been very cramped in the uterus.
If the flattening is affecting the baby’s face, causing the ears to shift, or if the baby also has a neck problem called torticollis, an orthotic helmet may be needed.
You can help prevent this flattening by constantly changing your baby's head position. This is especially important when the baby is very young and can't move around a lot.
Here is what you can do:
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