Flat head syndrome, medically known as plagiocephaly, can happen to babies. Infants have fragile skulls, so exterior forces can cause it to change shape. The condition can affect one or both sides of the head. It can also happen in the womb depend on the positioning of the baby. A long and drawn out labour can also flatten the sides of a baby’s head.
Causes of flat head syndrome in babies
- Baby’s position in the womb: This can be affected by multiple pregnancies, uterine fibroids, or the anatomy of the uterus
- Premature babies: They have more fragile skulls which would be moulded more easily
- If baby is sleeping in only one position, especially on the back
- Congenital muscular torticollis: Due to short or tight neck muscles, a baby may keep his head tilted on one side even during sleep
Prevention of flat head syndrome
- Regularly changing the baby’s sleeping position: Some doctors recommend that babies should sleep on their back in order to prevent SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) while others propose that sleeping on the side is also perfectly safe. Specialists recommend changing the baby’s sleeping position every night.
- Help baby to sleep on his belly: The best way is to let the child sleep on his own chest or belly. This way the pressure on the skull is minimum, and you can change the baby’s position often. Adult supervision is advised.
- Keep the baby in an anatomically friendly baby carrier. No pressure will be put on his skull. Baby carriers are comforting too, because the infant stays close close to the parent or caregiver.
- Keep the baby moving and crawling as much as possible. Even if the baby is very small, it should not be kept in the same position for long.
- If the baby is predisposed to muscular torticollis, the doctor will recommend physical exercises to correct the condition.
As the baby grows, the risk of flat head syndrome should diminish considerably. Some doctors may tell the parents that the flat head syndrome will correct itself with age. This may be true in mild cases, but the risk of a permanent flat head is still possible. There are ways to correct a flat head syndrome, which includes wearing a special helmet to help protect the skull from being moulded.
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