As you watch your child grow, you see every detail, and love each small change in his or her appearance. You and your partner may be constantly bombarded by comments about who your child looks like, but if you or someone else notices something unusual – such as a flat spot on your child’s head – you may be concerned.
If you were the first person to notice that your child’s head isn’t shaped quite the same as most babies you have seen, you might be concerned about self-esteem issues later in life, developmental issues, or the permanence of any deformities. We’ll go over the determinants of normal head shape in this article – you will be surprised how varied the human head can actually be in shape.
Don’t worry about long term effects just yet. The majority of cranial deformities resolve independently. If your child needs treatment, his or her doctor will tell you. A funny shaped head can be a very temporary thing, especially for premature infants or babies who had limited mobility in the uterus, or rough deliveries.
How Can You Monitor Your Baby’s Head Shape?
Your child’s physician or other medical personnel on his or her care team will frequently assess your baby’s head shape visually. If they notice a problem, or you report a concern, they may take special measurements to see if a deformity is present. Infants’ skulls grow and change rapidly.
The wide variety of adult head shapes is testimony to the diversity of nature. Once in a while, the growing skull can look odd, but is still considered perfectly normal. If you are concerned about your child’s head shape, however, ask his or her doctor immediately to address your concerns.
How Can Baby Head Shape be Measured?
One primary means of determining if a child’s head is shaped normally is measuring the cranial index. This measurement and the cranial cavity measurements can be obtained using many devices or instruments. Currently, lasers, handheld craniometers, and diagnostic imaging are utilized.
The appearance of more severe deformities is often overtly visible. The most reliable and commonly used instrument is the craniometer. There are questions regarding the accuracy of measurements obtained with this device, however. Laser devices are also popular, especially in orthotics companies, but their reliability is still being tested in clinical trials.
There is not current consensus on cephalic index, also called cephalic ratio, measurements. Since 1979, more than ten different measurements have been suggested. The measurement is particularly important in the diagnosis of scaphocephaly and brachycephaly. The hope of advancing medical laser technology is that it may be able to notice and treat these conditions earlier than craniometer use allows.
Craniometers are effective in the diagnosis of plagiocephaly. By measuring a child’s skull along a superimposed X, the diagnosis of plagiocephaly can be made or rejected. The difference between a plagiocephalic skull and a normal skull can be several millimeters. Mild plagiocephaly is a difference of 9 mm or less, moderate plagiocephaly is characterized by a 10-19 mm difference, and severe plagiocephaly involved 20mm or greater difference in skull symmetry.
Sometimes, even when skull measurements might indicate the presence of a cranial deformity, there is no cause for concern. Your child’s doctor will examine familial characteristics and head shapes in order to understand how much of an abnormal shape could be the result of genetics.
If you or your partner have slightly more rounded, square, triangular, or elongated head shapes than average, your baby might look like they have plagiocephaly, scaphocephaly or brachycephaly, but could be perfectly normal. Consult your child’s doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s head shape.