Flat head syndrome / Plagiocephaly

Flat head syndrome Plagiocephaly baby

As a paediatric / cranial osteopath one of the things I commonly treat babies for is flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly).  This is where the skull is noticeably flattened on one side of the head, causing an asymmetrical headshape.  Understandably this can cause concern for parents.  Ideally the earlier this can be addressed the better, as this effects the development of the bones of the skull.

What causes plagiocephaly

It can happen in utero, e.g. a big baby, or low amniotic fluid.

It can also happen related to the birth process, such as venteuse or forceps delivery or waters breaking a long time before the baby is delivered.

Twin or triplet births

Premature babies

One cause which is rare but which is not with in the remit of usual management is craniosynostosis, which is premature fusion of the cranial sutures and requires surgical treatment.

What can I do?

Repositioning the baby’s head so that it doesn’t fall to the flattened side.

Tummy time- this is an important step for development of the baby- try doing this for a few minutes at every nappy change.  This will lead to less time with the baby lying on the back.

Avoid using the car seat for long periods of time.

Osteopathic treatment;

An osteopath specialised in treating babies will check that the baby is reaching its developmental milestones.  Good neck control for example is important for the spinal curves, and turning the head leads to the body rolling more effectively. Gentle hands-on treatment helps to reduce pressure on the baby’s skull and neck and reduce strain patterns that may have arisen in the womb or during birth.

There are special mattresses and pillows that have been developed to help with this problem.

For marked plagiocephaly it is worth considering a helmet.  This is an orthotic device that is worn on the head for a number of months to correct the issue.  Contact me for a recommendation.