Children with mild plagiocephaly may grow up without being aware of their condition, and can lead a life with no expected additional difficulties.
The effects of moderate and severe plagiocephaly on infant and child development are still being studied, and are not fully understood. There is some evidence that suggests developmental delays can result from these conditions, however. Additionally, ‘cross-jaw,’ or mandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is thought to be the result of plagiocephaly in some cases.
Although there have been studies which show an association between flat head syndromes and developmental delays, it has not been established whether the developmental delays are caused by flat head syndromes, or whether babies with these conditions are more likely to experience developmental delays as a result. However, there has been proven to be a connection and therefore it is important to keep a close eye on your baby’s development and seek medical advice and possibly physical therapy if necessary to address any delays.
See this article on a research study on developmental delays associated with deformational plagiocephaly for more information.
While there are no real studies available on the emotional impact of untreated plagiocephaly in children, it seems reasonable to expect that a child who looks ‘different’ will understand that difference in time, and have to deal with the emotional issues it presents. Additionally, bullying may be an issue in the elementary school years with any child who does not look “normal” as compared to other children.
Is this Condition Permanent?
Moderate and severe acquired plagiocephalies may not resolve on their own, but can be treated with helmet or band therapy, if they are caught before an infant’s skull bones have joined together. Treatment should take place before the child is 18 months of age, but is ideally started around 6 months of age for best results. The treatment is relatively simple, and there are numerous FDA-approved options available on the market. Treatment should always be conducted by a neurosurgeon or orthopedic specialist in cooperation with the baby’s pediatrician.