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."
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.
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.
Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.
I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.
You need to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful websites on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this site!
Howdy! This article couldnít be written any better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!
That is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise infoÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!
I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I'm hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own site now 😉
There is certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you've made.
Good day! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly delighted I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!
I'm more than happy to find this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new stuff in your site.
buying prescription drugs in mexico prescription cost comparison integrity rx specialty pharmacy
Hi, I do think this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.
Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.
This page really has all of the info I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.
Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve been to this web site before but after looking at some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím certainly pleased I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!
I could not resist commenting. Very well written!
There's definately a lot to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you've made.
cialis black reviews puchsae cialis cialis usa pharmacy
online pharmacy store in delhi riteaid online pharmacy canada cloud pharmacy
Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a really good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It's always exciting to read through content from other writers and practice something from other web sites.
Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
Hello! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for your great info you have got right here on this post. I am coming back to your website for more soon.
Hi, i feel that i saw you visited my blog so i came to return the want?.I'm trying to
to find things to enhance my web site!I guess its good enough to use a few of your ideas!!
Howdy! This article couldnít be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will send this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!
dispose of prescription drugs approved canadian online pharmacies topical rx pharmacy tallahassee fl
I needed to thank you for this good read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you book-marked to check out new things you postÖ
Everyone loves it when individuals come together and share views. Great site, keep it up!
Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!
viagra c20 cialis generic cialis professional cheap cialis 20 mg