Plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, develops when baby always turns his head to the same side, when waking up or sleeping. Here's what to watch out for to prevent it.
What is plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly is characterized by a deformation of the child's skull and is often related to postural asymmetry caused by torticollis. Indeed, when a child always has his head turned to the same side, pressure is created on only one side of the head, which causes the head to flatten on this side. When the asymmetry of the skull is greater, it is also possible to notice a bulge in the forehead and/or a change in the alignment of the ears. So, if your child has torticollis, it is very important to observe the shape of his head to ensure that there is no associated plagiocephaly.
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What to do?
When plagiocephaly is minor, the treatment is first done by applying the general advice mentioned above. The most important thing is to change the position of the head to modify the pressure points (and thus reducethe pressure exerted on the skull from the flat side) when the child is lying on his back.
It is also possible to put the child on a heart-shaped pillow (on sale at Mamanpourlavie.com, in particular) or on a butterfly pillow to avoid direct support of the head on the floor and to maintain a symmetrical head position. It is important not to let a child sleep unsupervised all night with this type of pillow to avoid sudden infant death syndrome.
Physiotherapy treatments are very important when the plagiocephaly is greater in order to reduce the impact on motor development and posture and also to avoid greater deformities of the skull and face. In addition, the physiotherapist will be able to identify the cause of the plagiocephaly (related or not to torticollis) and direct the treatment accordingly.
What are the medical treatments?
If the plagiocephaly persists despite physiotherapy treatments as well as the application of recommendations and the performance of exercises at home, wearing a cranial orthosis (helmet) can be considered. The helmet is molded to the child's head and custom made by a trained orthotist so that there is no longer any pressure on the flattened part of the skull. The helmet must be worn by the child 23 hours a day for a few months, then at night only for a few more weeks, depending on the evolution of the condition.
Did you know that plagiocephaly is not only cosmetic and can affect brain development?