WHAT IS FLAT HEAD?(PLAGIOCEPHALY)

Positional plagiocephaly is a disorder in which the back or one side of an infant's head is flattened, caused by repeated pressure to one side of the back of the soft infant skull.

Changing Sleeping Conditions

Parents often face a conundrum: one should place a healthy sleeping baby on his or her back to reduce the risk of SIDS, but doing so may lead to plagiocephaly. Luckily, parents do not have to worry about either when their baby is sleeping in the supine position on a Lifenest. The physician-designed Lifenest Mattress Topper helps prevent plagiocephaly in several ways:

  • The Lifenest cradles the baby’s head, helping to prevent positional flattening.
  • The increased contact surface reduces the pressure per square inch on the head.
  • The Lifenest’s comfortable and supportive netting allows a baby’s head to move freely.
  • During supervised “Tummy Time,” the baby may breathe through the netting.

Flat Head Prevention Before Lifenest

  • Techniques for repositioning include supervised “Tummy Time,” switching the direction that your baby lies in the crib, and changing the location of the baby’s crib.
  • Talk to your health care provider about your baby’s head shape at each checkup.
HOW IS PLAGIOCEPHALY DIAGNOSED?

Observational Diagnosis

  • Most often, the diagnosis does not require X-rays or lab tests. A simple examination by a doctor is generally enough to make the diagnosis of positional plagiocephaly.
  • Positional plagiocephaly is generally easy for parents to notice. When looked at from above the baby’s head, one ear may appear more forward than the other. A "parallelogram" skull shape strongly suggests deformational plagiocephaly.
HOW COMMON IS PLAGIOCEPHALY?

Extremely High Incidence

  • Over the past several years, pediatricians have seen an increase in the number of children with cranial asymmetry, particularly unilateral flattening of the back of the head (occiput). Currently, deformational plagiocephaly has reached epidemic proportions.
  • This increase is likely attributable to parents following the American Academy of Pediatrics "Back-to-Sleep" positioning recommendations aimed at decreasing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
HOW IS PLAGIOCEPHALY TREATED?

Custom Helmet or Band

  • More severe cases of positional plagiocephaly must be treated with a custom helmet or custom band that would need to be worn for 23 hours a day, for several months. The cost can range from around $3,000, and generally are not covered by insurance.
  • If you're starting late, your baby's skull may not become perfectly symmetrical.

SOURCES

1. M. L. Speltz, PhD, B. R. Collett, PhD, M. Stott-Miller, MS, 2010, Case-Control Study of Neurodevelopment in Deformational Plagiocephaly, Pediatrics, Vol. 125 No. 3 March 1st, 2010, e537-e542 The contents of this page, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.