- Flat Head Syndrome
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Over the years of treating babies with flat head syndrome, we have received referrals from doctors as well as enquiries from parents seeking treatment for their children above 2 years of age. Unfortunately, head shape would have been fully formed by age 2 – cranial helmet therapy is no longer a treatment option.
Untreated cranial asymmetries have been linked to developmental delays, visual defects, ear infections, middle ear malfunction, jaw bone changes, learning difficulties and other psychomotor delays.
While we need long-term research to support if uncorrected plagiocephaly will affect a child’s neurological development, there is no doubt that cranial asymmetry can have an effect on the child’s social well-being later in life, as his/her head will remain misshapen in adulthood.
Flat head syndrome often occurs due to constant pressure on one side of baby’s head during sleeping. Hence, supervised tummy time and repositioning can be very effective in correcting a baby’s flat head between†0-4 months old, as he/she is constantly in sleeping positions.
However, when babies above 4 months of age reach their milestones of constant tummy time, sitting up and moving about, these methods may not be as effective anymore.
In 1994, the¬†Back to Sleep¬†campaign was launched in the US ¬†to encourage parents to place their babies sleeping on their backs in hope to reduce the occurrence of SIDS.
The current adult population was born when plagiocephaly is uncommon, as babies were placed on their stomachs to sleep. The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)* led to the 1994 launch of the†Back to Sleep†campaign in the US.
Parents were informed of the importance of back sleeping and encouraged to place their babies sleeping on their backs instead of tummies.
While it has successfully reduced the occurrence of SIDS, there is a significant increase in the number of plagiocephaly cases (statistics for Asia is unavailable at this point).
*Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) refers to the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under 1 year of age – a major cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age in the United States and this happens most often during sleep.
Prolonged time spent in car seats, infant carriers and slings may possibly contribute to the flattening of a baby’s head. Reduction of time spent in these devices is recommended. It is also beneficial to encourage regular supervised tummy time and repositioning techniques.¬†View Tummy Time Tools.
There is currently no research confirming that plagiocephaly has any harmful effects on a baby
While it may be easy to identify if your baby has flat head, the best way to determine the severity is through a full evaluation including measurement. Head shape assessment is available at Orthopaedia.