A common question I am asked by parents is how head flattening occurs and why it only occurs in some infants (25-35% by most estimates). First, let’s address why it only affects some infants.
Learn more about plagiocephaly (flat-head syndrome), including parent questions and concerns about plagiocephaly, treatment options, clinician profiles, and success stories from using a cranial orthosis for plagiocephaly.
Many babies—as many as one in every five—has a flat spot on the back or side of the head. This flattening, called plagiocephaly if the flattening is on one side of the head and brachycephaly if the flattening is on the back of the head, can be caused when the baby’s head frequently rests in the same position on everyday surfaces such as a mattress or car seat, or it can even happen in the womb.
Many babies develop a flat spot on one side of the head, called plagiocephaly. While some cases of head flattening are the result of a rare birth defect (congenital plagiocephaly), most cases of flat head syndrome are positional plagiocephaly, which means that the flat spot has developed due to the baby’s head frequently resting in the same position.
At 2 months old, Maxwell’s parents noticed he had a side preference—his head always seemed to be turned the same way, and that preferred side seemed to be flattened. They asked their pediatrician about it and were told that it might resolve on its own. It didn’t.
When Andrea Schleibaum’s son Owen was 3 weeks old, she noticed something. “He had a flat spot on the back of his head,” Andrea said. “We have another daughter and she also had a flat spot when she was a baby. We didn’t get it addressed and it never fully resolved. She has a full head of hair now and most people can’t tell, but I can tell because I’m her mom. This time with Owen we really wanted to get it fixed.”
If your baby has plagiocephaly or “flat-head syndrome,” a common condition characterized by a flat spot on the back or side of a baby’s head, your pediatrician may recommend an orthotic helmet to correct the cranial asymmetry and promote a more rounded head shape.
Many babies have a flattened area of the back or side of their head. This flattening or cranial asymmetry is called plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome.” It can be caused when the baby’s head frequently rests in the same position on everyday surfaces such as a mattress or car seat, or it can even happen in the womb. It is very common, occurring in about half of all infants.
If your child has plagiocephaly, also known as “flat head syndrome,” you might be wondering if a cranial helmet, or cranial remolding orthosis (CRO), will be an effective treatment. The answer is, it depends on several things, one of which is the age of the child at the time of treatment.