When your child’s pediatrician first speaks the word – plagiocephaly – it can be a scary time as a parent. Questions begin to swim around in your mind and knowing which to ask can be a daunting task. Once the dust settles on this new diagnosis you can start to piece together the next best step.
In order to choose the right treatment options for your baby it is very helpful to fully understand the diagnosis. By know you already know that plagiocephaly is baby flat head syndrome. It is a flattening in the skull that occurs for a number of potential reasons. Most commonly the diagnosis stems from too much time spent laying on one side of the head. The diagnosis of this disorder began to grow exponentially after the “Back to Sleep Campaign” took hold to help avoid the devastating effects of SIDS. The campaign has saved the lives of many infants.
There are several other medical conditions that can lead to a diagnosis of baby flat head syndrome. This look article will help you better understand your baby’s diagnosis and all of the medical jargon associated. Here we will take a look at the difference between frontal and occipital plagiocephaly.
What is Anterior Plagiocephaly?
Anterior plagiocephaly or frontal plagiocephaly make up a small percentage of diagnosed cases. Premature closing of a coronal suture generally causes this kind of plagiocephaly. These sutures are the spaces between the skull that are open at birth to allow the brain to grow and develop. When one of these sutures closes to early it can lead to plagiocephaly.
What is Occipital Plagiocephaly?
The more common type of plagiocephaly is the occipital or posterior variety. A small number stem from a craniosynostosis (premature closing of a skull suture), most are caused by positional pressure. Because baby spends a large amount of time lying on her back, the skull becomes slightly misshapen.
How are these types of plagiocephaly treated?
Surgery is often the first course of treatment for anterior plagiocephaly. Surgeons make a micro-incision and create space for the brain to grow and the skull to expand. While it sounds very frightening for a baby to undergo surgery at the young age of 3-6 months, the surgery is done commonly with very positive outcomes.
Occipital plagiocephaly is treated based on the severity of the malformation. In mild cases, a doctor may prescribe a course of repositioning therapy where baby changes which side of the head she lies on. This might include the use of babywearing, swings, bouncers and moving to various spots. Obviously, in more pronounced cases cranial remolding using a special helmet or band might be warranted for a course of a couple to a few months.
How do I know which my baby has?
When your child’s pediatrician makes the initial diagnosis they will usually take the time to explain the cause and potential treatments for the flat head syndrome. It is helpful to follow up with the doctor once you have more information and know what questions you want to ask. Working closely with your doctor will help you fully understand what to expect.