What is Deformational Plagiocephaly?
Deformational plagiocephaly, sometimes known as positional plagiocephaly or “flat head syndrome”, is a common condition and occurs when external forces cause a baby’s head to take on an abnormal shape. Positional plagiocephaly is characterised by the flattening of one side of the back of the head and can be noticeable from birth, or can present itself in the first few months of life.
In most cases, this condition will improve as the baby grows and when external forces are reduced through repositioning of the baby. This is often achieved by increased tummy time and the baby spending less time in car seats and bouncy chairs.
Other head shape deformities in infants include:
- Positional Plagiocephaly is a flattened area to the back of a baby’s head. This area may be central or to the side and can cause asymmetry to the forehead and misalignment of the ears and eyes.
- Brachycephaly is when the baby’s head appears wider in relation to its height. The forehead may be more prominent to balance the flattening at the back of the head. This may be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
- Scaphocephaly or Dolichocephaly are when the baby’s head is longer in relation to its height. These conditions are often seen in babies that have been in the NICU for extended periods of time where the baby has been lying on his or her side to allow easy access and monitoring of the child.
- Torticollis is when the baby’s neck is twisted. Typically, the baby’s head is tilted to one side, while the chin is turned to the other side. Torticollis increases the risk of deformational plagiocephaly and should be treated by your local NHS physiotherapy department, which can be arranged by your GP.
Craniosynostosis can look similar to deformational plagiocephaly, but is different in that it is caused by the premature fusing of plates in the skull. It is very important that craniosynostosis is ruled out by your GP, as babies with this condition need to be referred for specialist craniofacial evaluation and possible surgery.
The four images above display the four common areas of flattening.
From left to right: 1. Symmetrical Brachycephaly (flattening directly across the back of the baby’s head) 2. Right Plagiocephaly (Flattening on the back right hand side of the baby’s head) 3. Scaphycephaly (flattening either side of the baby’s head) 4. Asymmetrical Brachycephaly (Flattening across the back and left side of the baby’s head) All of these head shapes can be treated with a STARband at STAR@Steeperclinic
We offer free no obligation consultations at our clinics in Leeds and London