PHYSIOTHERAPY WEEK 19 – 23 JUNE 2006
Physiotherapist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children were today taking the opportunity to offer advice to parents on ‘what is plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome)' and what to do to prevent your baby from getting it as part of Physiotherapy Week.
Positional plagiocephaly is when a typically rounded skull shape becomes flattened, usually at the back, as a result of skull moulding.It makes the shape of a baby's head appear flat at the back or side.
Most positional plagiocephaly can be avoided if parents follow these simple steps:
Babies should sleep on their backs but when awake should be moved into a variety of positions including on lying of either side or on his/her tummy.This avoids the constant pressure on the back of the head and will allow the development of the natural head shape.Babies like to play in a variety of positions and to practise lifting their head when on their tummy.
It is recommended that you change the way your baby's head turns when they are sleeping.
Young babies should only be in car seats when travelling and should spend minimal time in bouncy seats which will also cause pressure on the backs of their heads.
Plagiocephaly has become more common recently as a result of the Back to Sleep campaign to reduce the risk of cot death but if parents limit the time a baby spends in one position this will go a long way to preventing flat head syndrome.
Jean Eadie, Superintendent Physiotherapist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids is keen that parents are aware of what plagiocephaly is and what causes it.
She said:"Plagiocephaly is when a typically rounded skull shape becomes flattened, usually at the back or side of a babies head.This is caused by the amount of time a baby spends lying on their backs and in car seats in their early lives.The bones of their skulls are soft and can easily be moulded into a different shape.
"Most cases of positional plagiocephaly can be avoided with the above advice, however, if any parents are concerned about their baby's head shape they should speak with their GP or health visitor."
NOTES TO EDITORS
What causes positional plagiocephaly?
The main cause is the amount of time babies spend lying on their backs and in car seats in their early lives when the bones of their skull are soft and can easily be moulded into a different shape due to pressure.
Positional plagiocephaly is more common recently since the Back to Sleep campaign to reduce the risk of sudden death syndrome (SIDS or cot death).It is important that babies sleep on their backs as the benefits of reducing SIDS far outweigh the dangers of positional plagiocephaly.
What are the symptoms of positional plagiocephaly?
There are no symptoms other than the flattened head appearance at the back or side of a baby's head.It does not affect the baby's brain and is cosmetic, however may affect the baby's development.
It is very important that if a baby has difficulty turning to either side or tightening of any muscles that parents contact their GP or health visitor for further advice.
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