“Don’t Worry all babies don’t have perfectly round heads,” perhaps this is a sentiment you have heard. After all, most parents know that infants are born with irregular skulls. Most baby books and parenting resources warn not only will a newborn’s head be awkward in the first few hours after birth, but it will continue to morph as they grow through the first few weeks of life. So what if a parent notices flattening or asymmetry of their infant’s head? Should the awkward shape be a concern or simply something “cosmetic”, that will improve with time?
Fact is any asymmetry or flattening of an infant’s head that does not improve or progressively worsens after six weeks of age should be further investigated. Unfortunately, finding the proper treatment and/or diagnosis can be a battle for some. Some parent’s concerns are quickly dismissed by professionals, their anxieties declined as quickly as they were mustered. It can become frustrating for parent’s who are treated as though they are being over-protective, nagging, and bothersome despite their insistent suspicions that something is wrong with their baby’s head. However, parents should be assured that it is important to find the cause of skull asymmetry and understand that the wait and see approach might not always be the best solution.
The culprit for an abnormal head shape and facial features could be a condition known as CRANIOSYNOSTOSIS. This condition in which one or more of the boney gaps (sutures) in an infant’s skull prematurely close (fuses) develops once in every 2000 births. Craniosynostosis is not specific to any given gender nor race. Along with an abnormal head shape there might be a ridging on the skull along the fused suture, a non-existent fontanel (soft spot), and eyes that look uneven, too close together, or too far apart. If one or more sutures fuse the skull and brain growth is restricted and the brain can not grow in the direction of the fused suture. If left uncorrected, Craniosynostosis can lead to feeding issues, eyesight problems, hearing problems, breathing problems, learning delays, as well as seizures or permanent brain damage as 80% of the brain growth occurs rapidly in the first 18 months of life.
Although some misleading advice is still circulated to parents the good news is more awareness for the seriousness of awkward head shapes has continued to develop. More physicians are less dismissive with parent’s concerns and have realized results and options for surgery are more favorable when Craniosynostosis is caught earlier than later. Although, some still erroneously believe babies just need more time off the back of their heads for asymmetry to improve parents should be aware that if their child has Craniosynostosis no amount of repositioning, molding, or other treatments can work. A fused suture is not open and pliable and no amount of outward pressure will move a suture that is fused. Craniosynostosis is a progressive condition and the shape of the head is likely to decline throughout the child’s lifetime if uncorrected. Surgery, performed by a qualified craniofacial specialist is the only cure.
For more info on Craniosynostosis please go to http://www.beyondaglimpse.com/craniosynostosis
Online Support can be found at www.CAPPSKids.org and www.CranioKids.org/support
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