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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 Q67.3
ICD-9 754.0
DiseasesDB 29858

Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome,[1][2] is a condition characterized by an asymmetrical distortion (flattening of one side) of the skull. It is characterized by a flat spot on the back or one side of the head caused by remaining in a supine position for too long.[3]

Plagiocephaly is the word that is used to describe a diagonal asymmetry across the head shape. This word particularly describes a flattening which is to one side at the back of the head and there is often some facial asymmetry. Brachycephaly describes a very wide head shape with a flattening across the whole back of the head.


Slight Plagiocephaly is routinely diagnosed at birth and may be the result of a restrictive intrauterine environment giving a "diamond" shaped head when seen from above. If there is premature union of skull bones, this is more properly called craniosynostosis.[citation needed]

The incidence of plagiocephaly has increased dramatically since the advent of anti-Sudden Infant Death Syndrome recommendations for parents to keep their babies on their backs.[4] Treatments range from a simple repositioning of babies below the age of 5 months to more involved treatment with a helmet for children under the age of 18 months.[3]


Preliminary research indicates that babies with plagiocephaly tend to have learning difficulties later on in school.[5] Other studies suggest that there is no evidence to suggest that plagiocephaly is harmful to brain development, vision, or hearing.[4]


The condition will sometimes improve as the baby grows, but in many cases, treatment can significantly improve the shape of a baby’s head. Initially, treatment usually takes the form of reducing the pressure on the affected area through repositioning of the baby onto his or her abdomen for extended periods of time throughout the day.[citation needed]

Other treatments include repositioning the child's head throughout the day so that the rounded side of the head is placed dependent against the mattress, repositioning cribs and other areas that infants spend time in so that they will have to look in a different direction to see their parents, or others in the room, repositioning mobiles and other toys for similar reasons, and avoiding extended time sleeping in car-seats (when not in a vehicle), bouncy seats, or other supine seating which is thought to exacerbate the problem. If the child appears to have discomfort or cries when they are repositioned, they may have a problem with the neck.[6]

If this is unsuccessful, treatment using a cranial remolding orthosis (baby helmet) can help to correct abnormal head shapes.

Example of Cranial Remolding Band

These helmets are used to treat deformational plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly and other head shape deformities in infants 3–18 months of age. For years, infants have been successfully treated with cranial remolding orthoses.[7]

A cranial remolding orthosis (helmet) provides painless total contact over the prominent areas of the skull and leaves voids over the flattened areas to provide a pathway for more symmetrical skull growth. Treatment generally takes 3–4 months, but varies depending on the infant's age and severity of the cranial asymmetry.[citation needed]


Following tools and therapy could serve as an effective and safe treatment modality on managing this development disorder such as:

  1. Complementary Osteopathic treatment.[8][9]
  2. Tummy time.
  3. Specialist baby mattress
  4. Special Designed weight distribution baby pillow.[10][11][12]
  5. Specially designed infant headwear with a support roll which ensures the head is positioned correctly and can be adjusted every few hours. This eliminates any potential flat spots and prevents them in the critical early growth stages of the child's life.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kadom, Nadja; Sze, Raymond W. (2010). "Radiological Reasoning: A Child with Posterior Plagiocephaly". American Journal of Roentgenology 194 (3 Suppl): WS5–9. doi:10.2214/AJR.07.7121. PMID 20173180. 
  2. ^ "Doctor Finds Success In Treating Infants With Flat-Head Syndrome". CBS Los Angeles. April 30, 2013. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Laughlin, J.; Luerssen, T. G.; Dias, M. S.; Committee On Practice Ambulatory Medicine (2011). "Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities in Infants". Pediatrics 128 (6): 1236–41. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-2220. PMID 22123884. 
  4. ^ a b "Plagiocephaly and related cranial deformities". Pediatric Views. Children's Hospital Boston. April 2010. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Flat-headed babies may face learning problems". CBC News. December 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ Persing, J.; James, H.; Swanson, J.; Kattwinkel, J.; American Academy Of Pediatrics Committee On Practice Ambulatory Medicine (2003). "Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities in Infants". Pediatrics 112 (1 Pt 1): 199–202. doi:10.1542/peds.112.1.199. PMID 12837890. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lessard, Sylvie; Gagnon, Isabelle; Trottier, Nathalie (2011). "Exploring the impact of osteopathic treatment on cranial asymmetries associated with nonsynostotic plagiocephaly in infants". Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 17 (4): 193–8. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2011.02.001. PMID 21982132. 
  9. ^ Amiel-Tison, C.; Soyez-Papiernik, E. (2008). "Place de l'ostéopathie dans la correction des déformations crâniennes du nouveau-né et du jeune enfant" [Cranial osteopathy as a complementary treatment of postural plagiocephaly]. Archives de Pédiatrie (in French) 15: S24–30. doi:10.1016/S0929-693X(08)73944-7. PMID 18822256. 
  10. ^ Ohman, Anna (2013). "A pilot study, a specially designed pillow may prevent developmental plagiocephaly by reducing pressure from the infant head". Health 05 (6): 32–37. doi:10.4236/health.2013.56A2006. 
  11. ^ Ohman, Anna (2013). "A specially designed pillow may be used as treatment for young infants with developmental plagiocephaly". Health 05 (12): 2064–2067. doi:10.4236/health.2013.512280. 
  12. ^ Wilbrand, Jan-Falco; Seidl, Maximilian; Wilbrand, Martina; Streckbein, Philipp; Böttger, Sebastian; Pons-Kuehnemann, Joern; Hahn, Andreas; Howaldt, Hans-Peter (2013). "A Prospective Randomized Trial on Preventative Methods for Positional Head Deformity: Physiotherapy versus a Positioning Pillow". The Journal of Pediatrics 162 (6): 1216–21, 1221.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.11.076. PMID 23312680. 
  13. ^