One of the types of baby flat head syndrome is called scaphocephaly. A baby with scaphocephaly – also called dolichocephaly – has a long and narrow head with a wide forehead. The sides of the head may also have a flattened appearance, and your baby’s head may also seem small in size.
What causes scaphocephaly?
Unlike brachycephaly and plagiocephaly, scaphocephaly is frequently a congenital condition. It is also commonly seen in premature infants.
In congenital scaphocephaly (sagittal synostosis), the bones of the skull fuse together before the brain has finished growing. The result is a long, narrow skull with a ridge-like fusion of the bones at the top of the skull. This condition is the most common form of craniosynostosis (early fusion of the skull’s bones), and the easiest to correct, although it requires surgery.
Associated conditions include Marfans syndrome, Sensenbrenner syndrome, and Sotos syndrome.
There are two types of sagittal synostosis: primary and secondary. Primary sagittal synostosis occurs when the bones of the skull join prematurely and the brain’s growth is limited as a consequence of the condition. Secondary sagittal synostosis happens when the brain stops growing, and the skull fuses early as a result.
Scaphocephaly that is not present at birth is frequently the result of positioning – this type of scaphocephaly most commonly occurs in premature infants who spent considerable amounts of time in the NICU, where side-lying position is commonly used to provide easy access to fetal monitors.
The condition is so prevalent in premature babies that it has been nicknamed “premie head.” It can evolve into a true craniosynostosis if not addressed early on.
Sagittal synostosis (congenital scaphocephaly) is known to have a genetic component, although many cases occur in children with no family history of the condition. There is some suspicion that anti-depressants such as Paxil may be partially to blame for the condition.
Acquired scaphocephaly is most commonly observed in premature infants, breech births and in babies with risk factors for brachycephaly and plagiocephaly.
Frequency: Past and Present
While the rates of brachycephaly and plagiocephaly appear to have been affected by the Back to Sleep campaign, there are no reports of a similar increase in scaphocephaly. Studies on the occurrence of positional scaphocephaly is scarce, suggesting that more research needs to be done on the condition in order to fully understand it.
The existing research suggests that a correlation between more successful premature births and scaphocephaly rates might be expected, since the condition appears related to time spent in the NICU.
If you would like updates on the latest news about flat head syndrome, advice from experts, and stories from other parents, as well as our free book about how to do tummy time and make it fun for your baby, please enter your email below. We promise not to make your information available to anyone else.