Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Center

What is Deformational Plagiocephaly?

Child wearing helmet as treatment for plagiocephaly.

Like many parents in the U.S., you probably adhere to your pediatrician's advice, and put your new baby to sleep on his or her back. This simple step is vital in preventing the occurance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, for some babies, there is an unintended side effect. Due to being in one position much of the time (i.e., flat on his or her back), some babies may develop a flat spot on the back of their head. This condition is called plagiocephaly, and is considered a correctable condition.

Characteristics of Deformational Plagiocephaly

  • Flattening on the back of the head—usually on one side (unilateral), but can be found on both sides (bilateral).
  • The ear on the affected side is displaced forward and there is often minor flattening of the forehead on the opposite side.
  • The forehead and cheek on the affected side are displaced forward and can appear larger when looking at the child from the front.
  • Occasionally, the eye on the affected side is open wider.
  • In severe cases, the lower jaw can be affected with a shift of the bite plane.

If you have noticed a flat spot on the back of your baby's head, try changing his or her position by using a side positioner in the crib or cradle. Read more tips about preventing or correcting plagiocephaly.

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