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. RV Repairs Near My Location


    June 17, 2021 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    June 17, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. bellepat


    wow. i found it finally. thanks!

    How To Get Free Credits On IMVU Without Surveys 2022
    IMVU Free Credits Link 2022
    How To Get Free Vip On IMVU 2021

    June 17, 2021 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. notary near me

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the net. I'm going to recommend this website!


    June 17, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. driving range near me

    I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.


    June 17, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. eye exam near me

    Excellent article. I am dealing with some of these issues as well..


    June 17, 2021 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. petsmart near me

    Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve visited this website before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely delighted I stumbled upon it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!


    June 17, 2021 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. dog park near me


    June 17, 2021 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. dog boarding near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to come back yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 18, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. healthy food near me


    June 18, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. music stores near me

    Itís hard to come by well-informed people in this particular subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 18, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. deck company


    June 18, 2021 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Nearest RV Repair

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need to publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people do not talk about these subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Camper Repair Shops Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 18, 2021 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 18, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. pawn shops near me

    I really love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my own site and want to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Thank you!


    June 18, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Nearest RV Repair


    June 19, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair San Clemente California

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Many thanks!


    June 19, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Repair Seal Beach


    June 19, 2021 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Nearby RV Repairs

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this page.


    June 19, 2021 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. starbucks near me


    June 19, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Nearby RV Repairs

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    June 19, 2021 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve visited this web site before but after going through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly happy I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!


    June 19, 2021 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Camper Repair Shops Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RV Repairs Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Very nice blog post. I absolutely love this website. Continue the good work!


    June 19, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    After exploring a few of the blog articles on your web site, I truly like your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site too and tell me your opinion.


    June 19, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. asp.net development outsourcing

    If some one desires expert view on the topic of blogging and
    site-building then i suggest him/her to go to see this webpage, Keep
    up the good job.

    June 19, 2021 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to your blog before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyhow, Iím definitely happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 20, 2021 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Internet Marketing Consultant

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this web site.


    June 20, 2021 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Local Marketing Consultants

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the most important changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 20, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. www.pharmaceptica.com

    prescription coupon sildenafil 20mg https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. pharmacepticacom

    malaria drug hydroxychloroquine https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Google Marketing Service


    June 20, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Social Media Marketing Agency Near Me


    June 20, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Hosea Kofoid

    That is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 20, 2021 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Hershel Hisel

    I used to be able to find good info from your blog articles.


    June 20, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Adriana Poyner


    June 20, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sang Psuik

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the web. I will recommend this website!


    June 20, 2021 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Vikki Apalategui


    June 20, 2021 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Grace Whitehead

    I like it when people get together and share views. Great blog, keep it up!


    June 20, 2021 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 20, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. rv sales near me

    I was very happy to find this site. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to look at new things on your website.


    June 21, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. culvers near me

    I was able to find good info from your blog posts.


    June 21, 2021 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. ford dealerships near me


    June 21, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repairs Near My Location

    This site truly has all of the info I needed concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.


    June 21, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. advance auto parts near me


    June 21, 2021 at 06:08 | 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 RV Repair Near Me


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.