FLAT HEAD SYNDROME / PLAGIOCEPHALY

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ABOUT DEFORMITIES

 

Flat head syndrome – this term covers many infant medical conditions of various origins and with different influence on the child’s head shaping. These diseases include:

PLAGIOCEPHALY

 

Plagiocephaly is the most common kind of skull deformity. Plagiocephaly has been diagnosed extremely frequently in the recent years, which probably is a result of the campaign promoting supine sleeping of infants. Even though the basic idea of the action is right and its introduction decreased the occurrence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 40%, the increased number of cases of positional plagiocephaly has been a side effect. The infant’s skull is very soft and flexible, therefore any long pressure on its small area may result in deformities.

 

Another cause of plagiocephaly is torticollis, which is a congenital muscular dystrophy with 85% rate of incidence in children with plagiocephaly.Children with torticollis have their neck’s muscles shorter on one side, which makes it difficult for them to move their head to the other side.As a consequence, they prefer to sleep in one position only: with their head turned to one side.The habit of long-term lying down with the head on one side usually results in visible facial asymmetry.

 

In case of plagiocephaly, when you look at the child’s head from above, its shape resembles a parallelogram.

 

Remember! Plagiocephaly may lead to asymmetry in the child’s face and in some cases you might notice other serious changes:

  • one eye seems to be larger than the other (protruding)
  • eyes position is asymmetrical
  • ears position is asymmetrical (one ear protruding, the other is more backward)
  • the forehead is bigger on one side
  • the cheek looks fuller on one side

BRACHYCEPHALY

 

Brachycephaly is a condition called “short head syndrome”: it leads to the state in which the back of the child’s head is both wide and flat.

DOLICHOCEPHALY

 

This kind of deformity is characterised by side flattening of the head, which makes it look longer and narrower. Such cases occur most often in premature babies or when the baby’s head is blocked underthe mother’s ribs during pregnancy.

CRANIOSYNOSTOSIS

 

Considered a very serious disease, it is a result of a premature fusion of one or more fibrous sutures of an infant. The edge of the fused suture can be felt when you touch the deformed part of the head. Craniosynostosis can be diagnosed by means of skull X-ray or computed tomography.

 

This page and HeadCare products do not help the head deformities caused by craniosynostosis.

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF POSITIONAL HEAD DEFORMITIES?

 

Plagiocephaly and other positional deformities of a child’s head are usually the result of sleeping in the same position, lying down long, and the pressure of the child’s head on the hard mattress surface.

The head may also become flattened already in the mother’s womb.The flattening may be caused by the wrong position of the child in the uterus, the insufficient or excessive amount of amniotic fluid, defects or tumours of the uterus, multiple pregnancy, or the excessive weight of the foetus.The head can be also deformed during labour, when it goes through the narrow birth canal.Premature babies are likely to suffer from head deformities as well, as they spend a lot of time in an incubator lying in one position.

The flat head syndrome problems in newborn babies are related to:

  • the softness and plasticity of the infant’s skull and its quick development in the first 3-4 months,
  • long sleeping hours,
  • undeveloped and weak neck muscles: the child’s head always stays in the same position when it is lying down.

TORTICOLLIS

 

Torticollis is a condition caused by changes in the neck muscles or cervical vertebrae, which force the child to tilt his or her head to one shoulder, while turninghis or her face in the reverse direction and moving it a bit upward.Torticollis may have many causes, thus, it can be divided into several types:

  • congenital muscular torticollis: the condition is a result of a contraction of the sternocleidomastoid muscle on one side, caused by the irregular development of blood vessels in the muscle which leads to its stranding. This type of torticollis may be developed as a result of myositis, muscular dystrophy, irregular development of the muscle, or traumatic muscle haemorrhage.The torticollis, in the form of a spindle-shaped thickening, can be easily felt during palpation,
  • congenital osteogenic torticollis: this disorder is a result of the asymmetrical shape of cervical spine.There are many different causes of this state, including the asymmetrical shape of cervical vertebrae, particular vertebrae defects, or syndromes such as Klippel-Feil syndrome. In this kind of disorder, there is no tension asymmetry of the sternocleidomastoid muscle,
  • positional torticollis: this is usually a result of the abnormal position of the child in the mother’s womb or of a trauma which occurred during labour,
  • acquired torticollis: it can be caused by various lesions related to traumatic spine injuries, inflammatory changes, or systemic diseases. The torticollis can be also a consequence of a habit caused by, for example, vision or hearing impairments, which provokes the compensatory tilting of the child’s head.