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Plagiocephaly and its treatment | Boston Children’s Hospital

Learn more about plagiocephaly: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/plagiocephaly/overview

Boston Children’s Hospital Neurosurgeon-in-Chief Mark Proctor, MD, gives a visual explanation of plagiocephaly, often known as “flathead syndrome,” including how it affects head shape and when helmet therapy is needed.

As Dr. Proctor explains in our Pediatric Playbook series, Positional plagiocephaly occurs when a baby’s skull becomes flattened in one area due to spending a lot of time in a particular head position. A baby's skull is made up of several bony sections that have not yet fused together, leaving the skull soft and easily deformed. Sleeping in the same position or spending extended time in swings or car seats can contribute to the condition. Plagiocephaly is more common in premature infants whose skulls are softer and who spend more time lying down.

Plagiocephaly’s effects are only cosmetic; there is no convincing evidence that it affects brain development. Sometimes the only treatment needed is variations in sleep position. Other children will need special exercises, helmets and other noninvasive measures to help correct their head shape. Surgery most likely won’t be needed.

For more information, contact the Cleft and Craniofacial Center at 617-355-6309 (international: +1-617-355-5209).

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