How Common is Flat Head Syndrome?

As we learned in defining Flat Head Syndrome, Positional Plagiocephaly and/or brachycephaly (PPB) is a condition that affects term and pre-term infants. Infants with this disorder have a flattening and/or asymmetry on the back of their head due to unequal force/pressure being applied to the skull, resulting in what appears to be a flat spot on the head. 

You may be wondering, how common is flat head syndrome in babies?

How Many Babies have Flat Heads?

Unfortunately, positional plagiocephaly, or Flat head Syndrome is quite common. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, positional plagiocephaly occurs in almost 50% of babies. 47% of Infants are diagnosed every year in the US.

The numbers are even higher in pre-term babies, up to 85%.  (Ballardini, 2018; Nuysink, 2013; Yang, 2019)

We have seen an over 600% increase in diagnosis since 1992. Yet, this remains a hugely under talked about issue. 

How do you know if your baby has Flat Head Syndrome?

Only a doctor can diagnose plagiocephaly or Flat Head Syndrome. Signs and severity vary among babies. However, if you're concerned about any of the following, you should speak to your doctor. Your doctor can help identify symptoms that include:

  • Flattened area on any side of the head
  • Lack of hair in one spot
  • Appearance of misshapen head
  • Uneven ears

Should I worry about my baby's flat head?

A newborn baby's head is naturally soft and continues to grow over time. During checkups, your doctor will measure your baby's head for both shape and size. 

Tests are not required, so you should speak to your doctor if you detect any changes or concerns on a certain area. 

Fortunately, flat head syndrome is both treatable and preventable. We'll cover treatment and prevention options in a future article. Sneak peak, corrective helmets cost over $2,000 out of pocket for families. Subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss an update. 

 

 

 

Ballardini E, Sisti M, Basaglia N, Benedetto M, Baldan A, Borgna-Pignatti C, Garani G. Prevalence and characteristics of positional plagiocephaly in healthy full-term infants at 8-12 weeks of life. Eur J Pediatr. 2018; 177: 1547-1554.

Nuysink J, Eijsermans MJC, van Haastert IC, Koopman-Esseboom C, Helders PJM, de Vries LS, van der Net J. Clinical course of asymmetric motor performance and deformational plagiocephaly in very preterm infants. J Pediatr. 2013; 163: 658-665.

Yang W, Chen J, Shen W, Wang C, Wu Z, Chang Q, Li W, Lv K, Pan Q, Li H, Ha D, Zhang Y. Prevalence of positional skull deformities in 530 premature infants with a corrected age of up to 6 months: A multicenter study. BMC Pediatrics. 2019; 19: 520.