Baby Health Kids

What is plagiocephaly and how can I tell if my baby has it?

Plagiocephaly is a cranial deformity, more common in boys than in girls, consisting of a flattening of the back of the head, generally on the right side and which may be accompanied by a forward displacement of the same side.

Primary causes of plagiocephaly

A baby may develop plagiocephaly even before birth if the effect of the mother’s pelvis or the pressure of a twin puts pressure on his or her skull. Most infants with plagiocephaly have a common cause a Congenital Muscular Torticollis (CMT) or the habit of regularly sleeping on the same side. Plagiocephaly is less severe than it may seem at first glance but, if not treated properly, it can cause serious problems in the future development of the baby. Also, this cranial deformity can cause asymmetries of the face in the course of the first years, and if orthopedic correction of the deformity is not done before the first six months of life it can persist into adult life.

How can I tell if my baby has plagiocephaly?

There are several recognizable signs that can tell parents that their baby has this cranial deformity:
• The back of the baby’s head is flattened on one side.
• There is usually less hair in that part of the head.
• If a person looks baby’s head from above, they can see ahead the ear of the flattened side of the other.
In the most severe cases the head can stand out on the opposite side of flattening and the forehead can be uneven. If the cause is torticollis, the neck, jaw, and face may also be uneven.

How is plagiocephaly treated? (How to prevent or treat mild cases of plagiocephaly?)

Small actions such as holding your child, changing the baby’s sleeping posture, and laying him on his stomach for a while can help to subside the symptoms of plagiocephaly.
Advanced cases of plagiocephaly will require treatment by a specialist and the use of a custom helmet. These treatments are costly and very uncomfortable for the baby.