Plagiocephaly is the medical name for flat head syndrome. When a baby with a flat head, it is mostly a cosmetic problem, which does not affect the baby's brain development. What is flat head syndrome? How to prevent it? What care to provide?
Flat head syndrome manifests as one side (right or left) of the back of the skull that is flattened, and the forehead on the same bulging side. It is more common in boys (75%), and usually appears around the age of 2 months.
The causes of flat head
There are several phenomena that can explain flat head syndrome in a baby. Most of the time, however, the head is caused by the infant's lack of mobility.
Always the same position
Most of the time, a baby's flat head is due to their lack of mobility.
Important : Sleeping on your back promotes flat head syndrome because the bone at the back of the head gradually flattens out. However, to prevent sudden death in newborns, sleeping on the back is strongly recommended. It is therefore essential to continue to put your baby to bed on his back : in France, this sleeping position saves the lives of 20,000 babies every year.
Baby's immobility can take place outside of his sleeping hours. For example, a baby who is often in his cradle or stroller moves his head very little. The risk of flattening the head is therefore greater.
Other causes of plagiocephaly
Babies' skulls are soft during childbirth. Passing through the vagina, the skull may therefore be slightly deformed. Usually, the deformities go away after a few days. However, in some babies certain deformities may get worse.
Cause or consequence of the flat head, depending on the situation, torticollis can also explain the flat head. If your baby has stiff neck, he will always turn his head to the same side, even if you turn his head yourself. A stiff neck can be treated by a physiotherapist.
Avoiding a flat head when stimulating your baby
At least three times a day, leave your baby on his stomach for a few minutes while watching him. The goal is for your child to get used to other positions to prevent flathead syndrome.
Although you should always put your baby on his back, don't hesitate to change the location of the crib. Once, place it facing the door, then facing the window, and so on. In this way, you attract the curiosity of your child to invite him to look around him.
Outside the car, avoid (cozy) car seats, in which the baby moves his head very little. When you are not on the road, choose, for example, a pram carrycot, which allows the infant to turn his head more freely.
My flat-headed baby: what to do?
See a doctor
To find out the origin of plagiocephaly in a baby, you should see a newborn osteopath. He can then check if it is a stiff neck, and inform you of the necessary care.
You can also first go to your doctor or pediatrician, who will be able to refer you to other professionals.
A syndrome that can be treated
Be sure. Flat head syndrome is treatable.
A baby's skull continues to form until they are 2 years old. In the vast majority of cases, when the baby is taken care of before his 4 months, the deformities disappear completely.
Physiotherapy exercises may be prescribed to promote the infant's range of motion. After 4 months, if the deformity is still there, it happens that one prescribes tight-fitting helmets to help the skull to regain its rounded shape.
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