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What is Plagiocephaly?
Images provided courtesy Cranial Technologies, click here for more information about plagiocephaly.
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Technically, plagiocephaly is "a malformation of the head marked by an oblique slant to the main axis of the skull." However, more recently, the term has been applied to any condition characterized by a persistent flatten spot on the back or side of the head (also know as flat head syndrome).

It is important to distinguish between abnormal head shape caused by positioning (or deformation) and abnormal head shape caused the premature closure of cranial sutures (know as craniosynostosis).  Positional (or deformational) abnormal head shapes can be corrected without surgery (by repositioning or cranial orthoses).  Synostotic abnormal head shapes may require surgery.  If left untreated, children with plagiocephaly, especially those with moderate to severe plagiocephaly may experience other medical issues later in life.

A number of studies have associated the recent dramatic increase in the number of children with flatten heads with the "back sleep campaign." Since more children sleep on their backs, more have some flattening of the back of their heads. This condition can be much worse on one side if a child preferentially sleeps with that side down. Positional (or deformational) plagiocephaly, also known as flattened head syndrome, results from preferentially lying on one side of the head. Deformational brachycephaly is a flattening across the back of the head. The two conditions (plagiocephaly and brachycephaly) often occur together.

However, head flattening and asymmetry can have a number of causes: torticollis (also know as wryneck), crowding of the baby in the uterus, extended time in car seats and other infant carriers as well as back sleeping and craniosynostosis. In addition, abnormal head shape can take a number of different forms (for example, scaphocephaly, trigonocephaly and oxycephaly as well as plagiocephaly and brachycephaly).

Plagiocephaly.Info exists because the issues of abnormal head shape are complex.  If you have questions about your child's head shapes, I suggest that you start at "Get Real Help!" If you have additional questions or wish to contribute links or information, please contact me.
 

Kevin M. Kelly, Ph.D.
Webmaster, Plagiocephaly.Info
Last updated: 16-May-2012
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Kevin M. Kelly
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The information provided on this web site, although based on a thorough and careful review of the medical literature, is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should consult a physician in matters relating to health and particularly in regards to any symptoms which may require diagnosis or medical attention. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be responsible for any harm or injury resulting from interpretations of the materials in this site.
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