You may have noticed that some young babies have heads that aren’t exactly round; you may even have noticed it in your own baby. This common condition called plagiocephaly (plagio=oblique, cephal=head) and it occurs when the cranial system in a baby isn’t working properly. It can appear as a flat spot in some babies, or sometimes as a distortion through a baby’s whole head. A baby’s body is made mostly of membranes and cartilage, and is very pliable. The skull of a baby is basically a membrane, covered with bones that are not yet thick enough to protect the brain the way that an adult skull does. This makes it very easy for a baby’s head to become mis-shapen, especially if there has been trauma, or if there is a torticollis present (twisted neck).
While the cause of plagiocephaly remains largely unknown, there are a few things that may contribute such as birth trauma or not enough tummy time. All parents should be aware that a plagiocephaly isn’t just about having a baby with a funny shaped head. Plagiocephaly has been found to cause developmental delay in children according to several sources. (1, 2, 3)
There are many different kinds of plagiocephaly, and they are classified by the shape of the head with the deformity. Plagiocephaly needs to be assessed by someone who knows exactly what to do. Chiropractors with special pediatric training are a good place to start. Chiropractic has been shown to help babies with plagiocephaly (4), and if there is a problem that needs to be dealt with by a medical doctor (for example, if the sutures actually fuse, rather that get jammed, even though it’s very rare, it is a medical emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately), a chiropractor with postgraduate training in pediatrics will know what to do.
To find a chiropractor who is trained to deal with plagiocephaly please go to http://www.icapediatrics.com/members-referral.phpand type in your location. There are chiropractors trained in pediatrics near you.
- Hutchison BL, Stewart AW, Mitchell EA. Deformationalplagiocephaly: a follow-up of head shape, parental concern and neurodevelopment at ages 3 and 4 years. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2011;96:1 85-90Published Online First: 29/09/2010
- Van Neil, C. Infants with Plagiocephaly Are at Risk for Developmental Delays as Toddlers. Journal watch Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2011 [1538-3571] Van Niel, Cornelius
- Hutchison BL, Stewart AW, de Chalain T, Mitchell EA. Serial developmental assessments in infants with deformational plagiocephaly. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2012; 2012: 48(3);274–278
- Leighton JM. Non-synostotic deformational plagiocephaly: An evidence-based case report. Clinical Chiropractic, Dec 2008; 11(4):211–218