How common is Positional Plagiocephaly? And what are the risks?

As a new parent there is a lot on your mind. Positional Plagiocephaly is on the rise. But just how common is it? And what are the risks if Flat Head Syndrome goes untreated? These topics are at the top of a lot of parent’s lists. As new parents we had these same concerns, let’s dive in.

How common is Flat Head Syndrome?

Flat Head Syndrome, also known as plagiocephaly or brachycephaly, has become more prevalent in recent years with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reporting an increase in incidence. With up 1 in 4 requiring medical intervention. Several factors contribute to the occurrence of Flat Head Syndrome, including:

  1. Back to Sleep Campaign: The "Back to Sleep" campaign, which recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), has been successful in decreasing SIDS rates but has also been associated with an increase in positional plagiocephaly.
  2. Sleep Positioning and Devices: Babies spending a significant amount of time in one sleep position or in devices like car seats, swings, and bouncers can be more prone to developing flat spots on their heads.
  3. Multiple Births: Twins or multiples may be more susceptible to head shape irregularities due to crowded conditions in the womb.
  4. Firstborn Babies: Firstborns may have a higher risk due to the lack of sibling interaction and tummy time as compared to subsequent siblings.
  5. Muscle Tone and Torticollis: Babies with low muscle tone or torticollis (a condition where the neck muscles are tight or imbalanced) may be more likely to develop a flat head.

While Flat Head Syndrome is relatively common, it's important to note that in many cases, the condition is mild and can be addressed with repositioning techniques, tummy time, and other non-invasive measures. Severe cases may require additional interventions, such as helmet therapy, to help reshape the baby's head. Following safe sleep guidelines and promoting tummy time are important practices to reduce the risk of developing Flat Head Syndrome.

Are there risks if Flat Head Syndrome goes untreated?

Plagiocephaly is generally considered a cosmetic issue in most cases and does not pose serious health risks. However, there are a few considerations and potential risks associated with the condition:

  1. Persistent Misshaping:
    • Without intervention or corrective measures, a baby's head shape may remain misshaped.
    • In severe cases, where there is significant asymmetry, the misshaped head may persist into childhood and adulthood.
  2. Developmental Delays:
    • In some cases, untreated flat head syndrome may be associated with developmental delays, particularly if the condition is linked to underlying issues such as torticollis (a condition where the neck muscles are tight or imbalanced).
  3. Visual and Hearing Concerns:
    • In rare cases, the misshaped head may lead to changes in facial features that could potentially impact vision or hearing.
    • Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals can help monitor and address any emerging concerns.
  4. Psychosocial Impact:
    • As a child grows, the appearance of a misshaped head may lead to self-esteem or psychosocial concerns, especially if the asymmetry is noticeable.
    • Addressing the issue early, whether through repositioning techniques, physical therapy, or helmet therapy, can help mitigate these concerns.

It's important to note that many cases of Flat Head Syndrome are mild and can be addressed with repositioning techniques, tummy time, and other non-invasive measures. The severity of the condition, as well as any associated risk factors, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

Thank you for tuning it. If you or a loved one are concerned about Flat Head Syndrome with your infant learn how Crescent Womb can help prevent Flat Head Syndrome or supplement your current care routine here. 

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