Positional Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is the term used to describe a head shape that is asymmetrical and characterized by a flat area on one side. Plagiocephaly is caused by prolonged pressure (such as laying on one side for a long time) on the part of the head that creates a “flat spot”. The opposite side of the head can have a protrusion at the forehead. There can also be uneven positioning of the ears and eyes.
Brachycephaly is a head shape that is flattened across the back resulting in a wider head. The forehead can also protrude more in the front. It is similar to plagiocephaly as both conditions are caused by long periods of pressure in one spot on the growing skull.
Torticollis is a condition where the head tilts to one side and can be caused by tightness and/or weakness of one of the neck muscles. Torticollis can be a contributing factor to plagiocephaly as the tight neck muscles can pull the head into a position that is held for an extended period of time causing the infant to keep the head in one position for extended periods of time.
Why do some infants have irregularly shaped heads?
The incidence of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly has increased in the past several years to several factors including:
- “Back to Sleep “ program
- Car seats
- Multiple births
- Premature births
Each infant with plagiocephaly or brachycephaly should be assessed by an experienced healthcare professional who will provide a treatment plan for the infant based on the individual requirements. Treatments may include repositioning strategies, physiotherapy and cranial remolding helmets. For more information, please refer to the Treatments page.