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What is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly (sometimes known as positional plagiocephaly or deformational plagiocephaly) is a very common, very treatable condition. Plagiocephaly happens when an infant’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area as a result of continuous pressure on one part of the head. Sleeping regularly in one position commonly causes plagiocephaly in babies.

Plagiocephaly is a common condition in newborns. Premature infants with especially flexible skulls are more likely to develop it. Treatment might include specialized exercises, changing sleeping position or wearing corrective headbands, or using molding cups.

Many parents of children with plagiocephaly seek expert medical assistance to ensure that their children do not have craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is a condition in which the skull bones fuse together and give rise to an abnormal head shape that can be mistaken for plagiocephaly. Craniosynostosis, unlike plagiocephaly, necessitates surgery.

What are the symptoms of plagiocephaly?

A flat appearance on one side of a baby’s head is caused by plagiocephaly. This is generally the only sign; it isn’t uncomfortable and has no impact on a baby’s daily activities or capabilities.

What are the causes of plagiocephaly?

Sleeping in one position is believed to cause plagiocephaly in about 80% of infants. 20 to 25 percent of babies who sleep on their backs are reported to have some degree of plagiocephaly. Other causes include:

  • Position in the womb. The fact that infant skulls are so soft makes them frequently deformed during delivery, but this does not lead to plagiocephaly. Plagiocephaly is more common in infants who were born as part of a multiple pregnancies or whose mother has a small uterus.
  • Premature birth.┬áPremature infants spend long periods of time in a fixed position while recovering in the neonatal intensive care unit. This frequently results in plagiocephaly.
  • Muscular torticollis. This is a shortening of the muscle in one side of the neck, causing the head to tilt in one direction.