by Dr. Payel Banik D.O.
The term “plagiocephaly” is a Greek derivative that means “oblique head.” Most skull deformities present at birth are the result of molding while the baby is in the womb or during delivery.
Brachycephaly is a flattening of the back of the head, also likely due to this molding.
Scaphocephaly is when the head shape is long and narrow, which may be positional (from side-lying in the NICU) or may be due the premature closing of skull sutures between the bones.
For the purpose of this document, we will refer to all these different head shapes as plagiocephaly, as the treatments are the same.
“About one in four U.S. infants has some degree of positional plagiocephaly.[ii]” Uterine constraint, like fibroids and multiple-birth infants, and forces exerted on the skull during complex delivery associated with forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery can all contribute to the molding of the skull.
Infants born prematurely also have a greater incidence of skull deformity attributable to molding after birth.[vi]
Most of these deformities improve spontaneously during the first few months of life if the infant does not rest his or her head predominantly on the flattened area of the skull.
Because the bones of the head are so malleable, if the infant continues to rest his or her head on the flattened side or back of the head, the deformity may become worse.
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