New advice to prevent and correct flat head syndrome in babies
November 28th, 2011
07:51 AM ET

New advice to prevent and correct flat head syndrome in babies

Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that babies sleep on their backs, the number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS - the number one cause of death among infants younger than 1 year of age - has been cut in half, according to the CDC.

However, as the number of SIDS deaths have gone down, pediatricians have seen a dramatic increase in babies having flat head syndrome. About 13% of healthy infants have some form of positional plagiocephaly (which means "oblique head" in Greek).

"[Babies] spend almost all their time on their back," says pediatrician Dr. James Laughlin, "that leads to some positional flattening or molding of the head, depending on how the baby sleeps." 

The longer they do that during the first 2 to 4 months of life, the more likely they are to develop a flattening of the head, says Laughlin, who is the lead author of a new report designed to provide guidance for pediatricians to help prevent, diagnose and manage positional skull deformities in otherwise healthy children.

Most babies' heads are slightly asymmetrical. Their skulls are soft and made up of movable plates (which are necessary for baby to make it through the birth canal).  In between these plates are spaces, which allow the skull to expand so that the brain can grow. If the baby's head always rests on the same spot, the skull plates move in a way that leaves a flat spot, according to the NIH.

The AAP and NIH caution that even though having your baby sleep on its back can lead to a flattened head, parents should not stop placing babies on their backs to sleep.  Asymmetry of the skull when caused by positional molding doesn't cause developmental delays, says Laughlin. "This is cosmetic."

The new report, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, suggests that pediatricians should counsel new parents about how to avoid flat head syndrome when they bring their newborns in for their check-ups in the first 2 to 4 weeks of life.

Until a baby is one year old, doctors should also screen for skull deformities at every wellness visit.

Only if the flattening of the head worsens by the time baby is 6 months old and the infant has serious flat spots should head-molding helmets be considered, according to the new guidelines. "There is currently no evidence that molding helmets work any better than positioning for infants with mild or moderate skull deformity," according to the report.

Surgery should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted, and after consulting with a surgeon who specializes in these types of cases.

There are simple steps parents can take to prevent flat spots, and they can also be used to minimize the progression if a positional skull deformity has already developed:

– Increase "tummy" time, which is supervised time during the day when baby lies on its stomach.  A baby should spend at least 30 to 60 minutes a day on it's belly, something that can be done immediately after birth.  This will help develop neck and shoulder muscles, says Laughlin. It has also been shown to "enhance motor developmental scores," according to this new report.

–  The NIH recommends changing the direction your baby lies in the crib each week.  They say this change will encourage the baby to turn his or her head in different directions to avoid resting in the same position all the time.

– Some babies prefer to hold their head to one side. Laughlin suggests laying them down in a different way when they're awake, so they have something interesting to look at on the opposite side. If you have them in a car seat or sitting in something else, you can also change the position to make the baby look in the opposite direction.

– Parents may find their babies sleep well sitting in a car seat, but this is another way they can develop an asymmetrical shape, especially in the first 6 months of life.  So experts suggest babies shouldn't spend a prolonged period of time in a car seat (unless they are in a car of course) or bouncy seat.

– Cuddle!  The NIH says "getting cuddle time with the baby by holding him or her upright over one shoulder often during the day," is another way to prevent flat spots.

"In the majority of these cases, this will correct itself on its own, without any or only minimal intervention," says Laughlin. "Because more than half of infants will improve by 6 months of age, repositioning should be attempted as initial treatment.  In most cases, flat spots usually go away when a baby starts sitting up on its own.

soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. Kseniyabof

    Недавно исследовал данные инета, неожиданно к своему удивлению увидел неплохой ресурс. Вот смотрите: модные очки для подростков . Для меня данный вебсайт показался очень оригинальным. Всего доброго!

    January 18, 2021 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. KarinaNep

    Три дня назад смотрел данные интернет, случайно к своему восторгу заметил хороший вебсайт. Гляньте: запись к эндокринологу ижевск . Для нас данный веб-сайт оказал яркое впечатление. До свидания!

    January 18, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bryanoon

    How to Meet Vietnam Girls Online – Find the Perfect One

    If you are thinking about how to meet Vietnam girls, then this report is for you. This report will tell you everything whether you want to get the girl of your dreams, you will need to know. Then this article is a must read for you if you're intending to meet with a woman online. First off, I would love to inform you in calling a woman who has no interest in your connection or in you, that you ought not waste time. The fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of thousands of people like you out there.

    You can do two things if you wish to locate a woman on your own: the first would be to spend some time trying to meet girls in person, and the second is to spend money on websites and other resources. In order to discover women all you have to do is begin contacting the people in your area and see who has an interest in you. As soon as you have found a few girls, try to speak to them. It's important make conversation and to ask them questions. You don't need to be so private that you believe you're making out with them you must always try to find out their name, birth date, and other information about them. You'll also need to know if they are single, married, or if they have kids. If you know these things, then you can choose whether or not you want to meet them in person.

    For those of you who plan on meeting with woman that is online is find some relationship websites that can help you find a woman of interest. Don't select. Instead, find a website that offers a free trial, and look around. After that, select the ones you like, contact them, and start the romance.

    January 18, 2021 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LcxEncox

    viagra au buy viagra cheap viagra free trial http://genqpviag.com/ – buy viagra in canada ’

    January 18, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. how to get free robux

    How do I change firefox from remembering my facebook info?


    January 19, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. how to get free robux

    I work for a company that is wanting to e-mail some of our media contacts from our Press Release blog posts. The main problem I am running into is finding a service that doesn't require opt-in. Does anybody have any suggestions?.


    January 19, 2021 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. AqbvEncox

    200mg viagra viagra australia viagra side effects http://acialaarx.com/ – safest sites to buy viagra ’

    January 19, 2021 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Natashalooxy

    पालक उगाने का यह तरीका जान लो इतनी पालक उगेगी की पड़ोसी भी टोड़ लेंगे/How to Grow Palak at Home

    January 19, 2021 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Randee Angileri

    No obstante, el contrato puede contemplar cláusulas que permitan variaciones en el precio de los transportes, incluido el coste del carburante, las tasas e impuestos relativos a determinados servicios y los tipos de cambio aplicados al viaje organizado. La agencia le puede exigir gastos de gestión y de anulación y penalizaciones de: un 5 del total del precio, si cancela entre diez y 15 días antes de la salida; un 15 entre los tres y diez días anteriores; y un 25, si anula el viaje en las últimas 48 horas. Si pasa otro mes desde el aviso, el operador podrá suspender definitivamente el servicio telefónico.


    January 19, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. free robux

    I want to start a website to post merchandise from home. Would a blog be fine? Or are there free sources for creating websites?.


    January 20, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. free robux

    Why do copyright holders want to restrict distribution of their content to a particular country?


    January 20, 2021 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Greg Debiasio

    Es una empresa de Valladolid con sede en Laguna de Duero dedicada a utillaje, troquelería, moldes, mecanizado de piezas en general, mecanizado de grandes series, especialmente en los sectores del automóvil, aeronáutico, iluminación, ferroviario y naval.


    January 20, 2021 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. free netflix login

    I want to start a website and I have no idea how. It has to be free and relatively simple, and I want other people to be able to comment on articles/pictures. Any suggestions?.


    January 20, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Leave a Reply to Hak


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.