What is Cranial Asymmetry?
Many factors can be associated with cranial asymmetries. Some occur before birth because of limited space in the uterus. These can occur with multiple births, first born, breech births and male babies. Some asymmetries also occur during or after births. They can happen after long labors or from poor muscle tone, spine abnormalities, neck muscle tightness and positioning. Long periods of time in one position can also misshape an infant's head.
Positional plagiocephaly is a disorder in which the back or one side of an infant's head is flattened, often with little hair growing in that area. It's most often the result of babies 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). Learn more about plagiocephaly.
Plagiocephaly is most often the result of babies spending a lot of time lying on their back or being in a positon where the head is continually resting in one position on a hard, flat surface, such as in cribs, strollers, car seats, swings and playpens.
Varying your child's head position can help. If the shape of your child's head does not improve on its own by 4 months of age, a cranial remolding helmet might be needed. Talk to your pediatrician to determine if a cranial helmet is the right treatment for your child.
Positional brachycephaly describes a relatively symmetrical flattening of the back side of an infant's head. Often times this is accompanied by a widening and an increase in the overall height of the head in the back. When looking down on the top of your child's head, you may notice that the head looks very wide above and behind the ears and short from front to back. When looking at your child from the side, the back of the head will appear taller than the front.
Brachycephaly is most often the result of babies spending a lot of time lying on their back or being in a positon where the head is continually resting in one position on a hard, flat surface, such as in cribs, strollers, car seats, swings and playpens.
Varying your child's head position can help. If the shape of your child's head does not improve on its own by 4 months of age, a cranial remolding helmet might be needed. Talk to your pediatrician to determine if a cranial remolding helmet is the right treatment for your child.
Asymmetric Brachycephaly describes a head shape that has both brachycephaly and plagiocephaly.
Scaphocephaly describes a head that is shaped long front to back and very narrow from side to side.
Torticollis is a somewhat rare condition where the neck muscles contract, causing the head to twist to one side. It causes the head to tip toward the affected side and rotate toward the opposite side. This condition will limit the range of motion of your child's head when looking side to side. This tightness also creates a "preferred positioning" of the neck where the child consistently lays on one corner of the back of their head. This can lead to an asymmetry of the head. If you believe your child has torticollis, physical therapy may be recommended for further monitoring and instruction. Talk to your pediatrician about an assessment to determine if your child will require treatment for torticollis.
Craniosynostosis describes a premature union of the bones of the skull. The top of your child's head consists of five bones. In between these bones, there are "joints" called sutures.
If any of the sutures close up before your child reaches full brain growth, it can cause various head deformities.
Doctors will perform a physical examination and sometimes a CT scan to tell the difference between craniosynostosis and plagiocephaly. If a child has craniosynostosis, a surgical procedure to open the prematurely closed suture may be necessary. Cranial helmets are not used until after surgery.
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