What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly (commonly known as Baby Flat Head Syndrome) is when a baby’s head develops a flat spot to the back or side caused by external pressures on the baby's skull from prolonged exposure in one position.  Babies' skulls can become flattened where they rest against any surface such as a mattress, baby swing, baby rocker, car seat or pram. Plagiocephaly must be distinguished from craniosynostosis which is the premature fusion of the cranial sutures which causes problems with normal brain and skull growth.   

There are two main types of baby flat head:

Plagiocephaly – one side of the back of the head flattens and slopes in one direction, often causing a bulging forehead on that side.

Brachycephaly – the back of the head flattens uniformly causing a wider shorter head and commonly causing increased head height.  Babies often have a combination of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly.

The number of babies developing flat spots on their heads is increasing.  It is estimated that around 13% of healthy babies now suffer from some form of plagiocephaly.  After experiencing the worry and stress of this ourselves, with our son Ben, we created this website to give information and practical advice to other parents on the prevention and treatment of baby flat head syndrome.

Effects of Baby Flat Head Syndrome

In severe cases baby flat head syndrome can make the face asymmetrical resulting in the forehead bulging and the eyes and/or ears becoming misaligned.   Some doctors say that it is purely cosmetic but there seems to be growing awareness that possible problems could include hearing, vision and jaw problems, as well as the obvious psychological issues of having a visibly flat and mishapen head.  From a practical viewpoint it may be difficult fitting your child with glasses when they are older if their eyes and/or ears are misaligned and if their head is mishapen sports helmets may not fit them.

If a baby develops a flat head it can be stressful and traumatic for the parents and the feelings of guilt can be overwhelming.  Since we became aware of plagiocephaly we have noticed a huge and growing number of discussions on the internet by other parents worried about baby flat head and asking for help and advice on how to avoid and treat baby flat head syndrome.  This is clearly an issue of growing concern– so what can be done to prevent and treat this condition?

In many cases a minor flat spot on a baby’s head will round out on its own once your baby starts crawling and sitting up and spending less time on her back.  More than half of babies with flattened heads will improve by six months of age, so try not to worry.  However in some cases it will not and, as a baby’s skull becomes harder and less pliable as she grows, the earlier you take action the better.  If you notice any flattening of your baby’s head talk to your doctor or health visitor about it straight away.  Depending on the severity, your doctor may refer your baby to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment.  We have put together ten top tips to help prevent and treat baby flat head.  

We hope you find this website on baby flat head useful and informative, if you have any comments please email us or leave a comment on our Comments Page.