Postural Plagiocephaly “Flathead”

What causes Postural plagiocephaly?

Postural plagiocephaly or “flathead” occurs when a baby’s head moulds into an unusual or atypical shape. This can occur as a result of how the baby lies in the uterus or it can occur when baby spends too much time on his or her back, in car seats and/or in bouncy seats.

The incidence peaks at about 4months of age, but with intervention, can show improvement by 6 months of age. At 6 months babies start to crawl and sit and therefore spend less time on their backs.

Postural Plagiocephaly "Flathead"

We recommend that:

  • Infants should sleep on their backs , but parents should gently rotate the head to one or other side once baby is asleep
  • When awake , new babies should spend at least 30-60 minutes a day on their tummies. A few minutes of tummy time after each nappy change is easiest. Short, frequent sessions are better than one long tearful session. Routine awake tummy time has been shown to enhance infant motor development during the first 15 months of life.
  • Limit your baby’s time in the car seat (unless they’re a passenger in the car!) and other recliners. Car seats are designed to keep babies in a relatively fixed position to protect them from sudden, unexpected impact in a car accident. Car seats should be kept in the car!

Diagnosis and the way forward

If your baby is diagnosed with postural plagiocephaly, it may be accompanied by torticollis or “wry neck”. In some cases it may be necessary for referral to a physio therapist or chiropractor for gentle neck stretching and lengthening execises.

CRANIOSYNOSTOSIS can also cause a flat head. Here there is premature closure of the sutures of the skull and Craniosynostosis surgery is necessary to correct the shape of the head. Read more about Craniosynostosis