What is Flat Head Syndrome?
Positional plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome is a condition in which the back or one side of an infant"s head becomes flattened. This flattening is most often the result of spending a lot of time lying on their backs or often being in a position where the head is resting against a flat surface (such as in cribs, strollers, swings and playpens). Torticollis is often present in babies suffering from plagiocephaly. Torticollis, sometimes called wryneck, is a condition in which an infant"s head and neck become tilted to one side, creating a shortened neck muscle on one side. Torticollis can be caused by positioning in uterus or from a lack of proper head and neck movement.
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics launched the "Back to Sleep" Campaign to reduce the occurrence of Sudden infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in newborns. While "Back to Sleep" has been a truly life-saving service and has decreased SIDS deaths by over 50 percent, this initiative has had some unintended consequences...
"Back to Sleep", coupled with the amount of time newborns spend on their backs not only sleeping/napping, but in their car seats, bouncers and swings has given way to a shockingly steep increase in the occurrence of positional plagiocephaly or "flat head syndrome.
Flat Head Syndrome causes cosmetic deformities in babies that can be permanent. Even more concerning are the findings of developmental delays, There are studies that show intellectual differences between children with plagiocephaly and those without. One study demonstrated that 39 percent of children with persistent deformational plagiocephaly received special educational services versus 7.7 percent of their siblings. (Pediatrics 200,;105:e26) . Trouble with binocular vision and long-term developmental issues are also closely associated with the development of flat head syndrome.
These conditions, when caught, can be extremely expensive and emotionally and physically difficult to treat. Physical therapy can be uncomfortable for the child, but is often required, and in severe cases, cranial remolding (the helmet) is necessary. When not diagnosed early enough, they can develop into life-long issues for the individual.
One study indicates the presence of intellectual difference in children with plagiocephaly versus those without, demonstrating that 39 percent of children with persistent deformational plagiocephaly received special education service vs. 7.7 percent of their siblings.
Prevention is Key
To prevent the development of flat spots, parents should actively reposition their infant"s heads throughout the day. The goal of repositioning is to encourage baby to place equal weight distribution on various areas of the head (to avoid the formation of a flat spot) as well as to stretch the neck muscles through rotation to both sides of their body.
Dr. Jane Scott is a Board-Certified Pediatrician, a wife, and a mother of four. Over the last 20 years practicing, she has watched flat head syndrome grow exponentially in infants to, now epidemic numbers and has witnessed countless parents struggle to treat this. Some are fortunate to receive an early diagnosis, when the issue is still fairly easy to correct. However, there are also many emotionally devastated parents who are faced with many difficult choices to make because of something that could have been easily prevented. After seeing so much unnecessary heartache, Dr. Jane made it her mission to end flat head syndrome across the US and the world.
In addition to educating new parents on the prevention of plagiocephaly, Dr. Jane created Tortle, a non-invasive affordable solution that not only helps to treat mild cases of early-diagnosed positional plagiocephaly and torticollis in young infants, but can prevent it from ever occurring.
The Tortle is an FDA cleared, simple, safe, and comfortable beanie designed to aid parents in positioning their infants. By switching the Tortle from side to side with each feeding, parents alleviate the flat spots and neck tightness that newborns often develop. For more information about Tortle and Dr. Jane"s mission, visit Tortle.com.
Dr. Jane is currently writing her first book, which is slated for release in Spring 2013. It is important to remember that prevention is key and flat syndrome doesn"t have to affect your baby. Speak with your pediatrician about plagiocephaly and torticollis. Get informed and be prepared before your baby is born. Help spread awareness by talking to your friends and family. There are numerous online resources for information and support from other families who have had a baby diagnosed with flat head syndrome. Through education and awareness we can keep our babies heads beautiful and round!
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