What Causes Plagiocephaly?

What Causes Plagiocephaly-What causes Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly, one type of head flattening in babies, can either be acquired or congenital, which is when the baby is already born with the condition.  The causes can be different depending on the type.

Congenital Plagiocephaly

Congenital plagiocephaly is rare, and according to diagnosispro.com, can be caused by either Curry-Jones syndrome or Faciocardiorenal (Eastman-Bixler) syndrome. Both conditions are very rare, and have several physical markers. Additionally, they can cause developmental, cognitive and motor delays. If your pediatrician suspects one of these conditions, make sure that your child receives the necessary care immediately.

Acquired or Positional Plagiocephaly

In the majority of cases, plagiocephaly is acquired.  There are different types of acquired plagiocephaly, with varying causes.

The four most common causes of acquired plagiocephaly are:

  • prematurity, 
  • frequent pressure on one part of the skull, 
  • muscular torticollis, and 
  • a restrictive uterine environment.

Premature babies can develop plagiocephaly when their soft skull bones pass through the birth canal. There is some suspicion that extended time on their backs in neonatal intensive care units increases the risk of plagiocephaly in premature infants.

The incidence of plagiocephaly in babies who were not premature is often associated with the SIDS Back to Sleep campaign. Babies who spend extended periods of time on their backs can develop the condition as a result of positioning. Infants who spend considerable time in car seats, swings, or bouncers (where the baby is lying on the back) are also at risk if their position is not frequently adjusted.

Another common cause of plagiocephaly is muscular torticollis – a condition in which one of the neck muscles is either tighter or shorter, which encourages a baby to keep their head in one position. Roughly 85% of babies diagnosed with plagiocephaly show evidence of muscular torticollis as well. A small uterus, where a developing fetus has little room for mobility can also put an infant at risk for plagiocephaly.

In plain English, individuals with acquired plagiocephaly have heads that are flattened in one area as a result of something applying pressure to the skull before the bones of the head fused together.

Keep in mind that some babies are more prone to this condition, and there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty if your baby has been diagnosed with plagiocephaly!

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  1. Bonnie Mcbride says:

    Can taking a depression or antidepressant medication Cause a newborn to have Flathead syndrome?

    • babyflathead says:

      There is no current research that shows a connection between depression or antidepressants and flat head syndrome. In most cases, it is caused by pressure on the head either in utero or after birth while the baby’s head is still soft (these are known as positional cephalies because they are caused by the position of the baby’s head). My son’s head was already flattened before birth because of his position in the womb, but it got much worse during the first few months of his life because of pressure on the back of his head. I hope that helps.

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