October 06, 2021 4 min read

An Introduction to Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is a disorder that makes a baby's head become flat on one side, and appear asymmetrical. It is very easy to notice as it can cause a child's head to appear to bulge on one side or lead to the toddler's ears being misaligned. 

Babies develop Plagiocephaly due to tight muscles in their neck restraining them from turning their heads, also known as torticollis. This limited movement causes the child to stay laying in the same position for long periods of time, causing the growing skull to flatten.

Who is at risk of Plagiocephaly?

First-born children are most at risk of Plagiocephaly, as well as children who are born with the help of forceps, or vacuum extraction. Children are most at risk at around 4 months of age, which is before they are usually able to roll over on their own.

It is recommended that you always put your child to sleep on their back in order to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.) After theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics began advising parents to practice this sleeping method the cases of Flat Head Syndrome have begun to rise, therefore it is very common within recent years and is likely nothing to worry about. 

If you start to notice your baby developing Plagiocephaly and become worried you should contact your GP, but rest assured knowing that Flat Head Syndrome will not affect your child's brain development.

 

Helmets - alternate, natural treatment available on our site
Source: Shutterstock. Helmets - alternate, natural treatment available on our site

 

How can Plagiocephaly be Treated?

It is completely normal for your child to suffer from flat head syndrome especially at around 3 months of age. There is nothing to be too concerned about, however, you should try and treat the baby's head in order to see the head shape return to normal.

Treating Plagiocephaly In Babies Naturally

Having your child spend time on their tummy is a great practice to not only keep them from lying on their head but also help train the muscles needed for crawling and sitting up. A lot of the time that will be enough and your baby's head should correct itself.

Another natural treatment method that is highly recommended is the use of Flat Head Pillows. This non-invasive method is much more natural and an effective treatment for correcting flat heads in babies. Place the pillow underneath your child’s head when they are laying on their back in order to remove the pressure from the back of the baby’s head. Our pillows are made to offer adequate support to your child’s skull and reverse the effects of Plagiocephaly naturally.

Treating Plagiocephaly In Babies Using Corrective Helmets

In more severe cases helmet therapy may be needed. This is often used for children aged around 3-6 months and can take up to 12 weeks to work effectively. This method includes using a helmet to help correct the shape of your toddler’s head, in a completely pain-free way. The helmet relieves the pressure from the back of the head while laying down and helps to mold the growing skull. 

Flat Head Syndrome is almost always corrected completely before the child turns 2 years old, with or without a helmet. 

As long as you are varying the positions your child is lying in while they’re awake the problems can be corrected on their own, a helmet is recommended in only 33% of flat head cases, but can help to resolve the problems faster.

 

Tummy-Time- The natural way to do it
Source: Shutterstock. Tummy-Time- The natural way to do it.

Conclusion: Who Is To Be Blamed For Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly is not the parent’s fault, babies should definitely be made to sleep on their backs in order to reduce the risk of cot death. Flat Head Syndrome is much more likely to occur when children are born prematurely or struggle to move their neck fully, it is not a problem and can be easily corrected naturally. 

The following is a summary of the effects of this condition:

  • Plagiocephaly can not cause brain damage
  • Despite any rumors and is never likely to affect the growth or development of your child's brain
  • Your baby will not be in pain. 

Helmets can be used as a more intrusive method and help in more severe cases, but most of the time your child will not need one. We recommend the following less intrusive ways and your baby’s flat head should be resolved naturally around 10 months old:

  • practice tummy time as much as possible
  • supervised repositioning throughout the day whilst they are awake
  • pressure distribution pillow while your baby is in the supine position

Flathead syndrome will not bring any physical problems to your child in later life, however, it can be a traumatic experience for parents which could bring emotional concerns and difficulties. 

A flat head is unlikely to ever be anything to worry about and as soon as you start practicing tummy time or invest in a flat head pillow you will start to see improvements and will stop having to worry about your child's head shape. 

If you are ever worried about your child’s head shape or are wondering when is a good time to start treatment, do not hesitate to get in touch with a medical expert. 

Any questions or queries contact us here.


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