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 (1,678 Responses)
  1. CrulkAsd

    purchase cheap cialis soft tabs https://cialisjla.com/ – cialis price comparison generic cialis lowest prices

    May 28, 2021 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. mobile home supplies orange county ca


    May 29, 2021 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Construction Truck Repair Shop


    May 29, 2021 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Zisseloh

    how should cialis be taken https://rcialisgl.com/ – generic cialis available in usa does cialis help with premature ejaculation

    May 29, 2021 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. EncoxGtv

    verified canadian pharmacy canadian online pharmacies legitimate legal online pharmacy

    May 29, 2021 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Video Marketing Specialist

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone who truly understands what they're talking about on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people need to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular since you surely possess the gift.


    May 29, 2021 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Local Marketing Agency

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always helpful to read articles from other authors and practice a little something from their websites.


    May 29, 2021 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Van Technician Shop

    Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 29, 2021 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. EncoxAni

    online pharmacy technician courses https://pharmacyken.com/ – canadian pharmacy shop most trustworthy canadian pharmacy

    May 30, 2021 at 02:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. EncoxGtv

    Minipress canadian association of pharmacies people's pharmacy

    May 30, 2021 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. SEO Marketing Consultants


    May 30, 2021 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Box Truck Wrap Shop Near Me

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 30, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Luxury Truck

    That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 30, 2021 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Casa da Rede- Encontre aqui os melhores produtos de informática

    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme
    in our community. Your website provided us with valuable
    info to work on. You've done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to

    May 30, 2021 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Mobile Repair Service Near Me

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 31, 2021 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Exhaust Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. CrulkAsd

    cialis australia online stores brand cialis with prescription cialis online

    May 31, 2021 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Local Marketing Companies


    May 31, 2021 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. EncoxDev

    canada mail order pharmacy online dog pharmacy drysol canada pharmacy

    May 31, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. EncoxDev

    15 rx pharmacy verified internet pharmacy practice sites canada Plendil

    May 31, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter Rust Repair

    Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone who really knows what they're talking about over the internet. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people really need to read this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you are not more popular because you certainly have the gift.


    May 31, 2021 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Van Upgrades Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Roof Repair Near Me

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal site now 😉


    June 1, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Van Repair Laguna Niguel

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this matter here on your website.


    June 1, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Service And Repair Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. ZisseVed

    does cialis help bph viagra vs levitra vs cialis prescription free cialis

    June 1, 2021 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV And Camper Repair Near Me

    I like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!


    June 1, 2021 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. all class rv yorba linda

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    June 1, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Elliott Wehking


    June 1, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Chevrolet Cargo Van Repair Shop Near Me

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best websites online. I'm going to recommend this blog!


    June 1, 2021 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Zisseloh

    reviews on cialis how to make cialis work better cialisfree pills

    June 1, 2021 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jessenia Hollister

    They are generally susceptible to carbon deposits and sludge formation. So, cleaning them is imperative to make sure your vehicle remains fuel-efficient and there’s no stalling or idling issues. Here is a list of the best fuel injectors that you can buy for your car.


    June 2, 2021 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. ZisseVed

    generic cialisis common side effects of cialis generic cialis availability

    June 2, 2021 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. toy hauler modifications


    June 2, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. portable enail

    Dab Padtoppuff45 Degree Joint Vs 90 Degree Joint Ash CatcherThe Medicali Ash Catcher with Showerhead Perc has a colored showerhead percolator and is available to order in a selection of colors. Please select your favorite color from the available option in the drop-down menu when you place your order. Please note that you can select the color of the showerhead percolator, it is not possible to select the color or style of the logo. The logos come in a wide variety of colors and styles, you will receive one at random, depending on availability.


    June 2, 2021 at 04:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Van Upgrades

    Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 2, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. andy murray barcelona

    {Bảng bao bao gồm các số liệu đo đếm đểPaul Pogbabạn dễ dàng tóm bắt tình hình, đối chiếu, phân tích kết quả của những đội. Bạn sẽ ngay lập tức lập tức mò được lịch thi đấu mới nhất, kết quả trận đấu, tư vấn soi kèo, và tỷ trọng kèo nhà chiếc. Trang cung cung cấp những link, đoạn phim truyền hình trực tiếp giải vô địch đất nước bên trên toàn thị trường quốc tế.|Trong khi, Sport 247 sẽ trần thuật trực tiếp đá bóng vớ cả những trận đấu hot nhất vào ngày cùng với những diễn biến mê hoặc và video bàn thắng bản quyền.


    June 2, 2021 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Rv Windshield Replacement Shop Near Me


    June 2, 2021 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jule Defilippis

    I blog frequently and I really appreciate your information. This great article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    June 2, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Cari Cepeda

    Hi there, I do believe your website may be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic blog!


    June 2, 2021 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Rv Windshield Replacement Shop


    June 2, 2021 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. MileSwa

    cialis price comparison cialis 100mg from china viagra cialis

    June 2, 2021 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Deonna Fazenbaker


    June 2, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Thad Hefler

    Can I simply just say what a relief to find a person that genuinely understands what they are talking about online. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular given that you definitely have the gift.


    June 2, 2021 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. EncoxHtf

    buy cialis south africa cialis 2.5mg cost buy cialis on liuner

    June 2, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. rv parts close to me

    Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 2, 2021 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Upgrades Shop Near Me

    That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 2, 2021 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Amie Utecht

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I actually believed you would have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    June 3, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. EncoxHtf

    cialis 40 mg cialis $200 savings card brand cialis canada

    June 3, 2021 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Digital Marketing Experts


    June 3, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

Leave a Reply to tim ferris podcast


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.