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What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Deformational Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome) is an abnormal shape of a baby’s head caused by external forces. The baby’s head may appear to be misshapen or asymmetrical immediately after birth, or the abnormal shape may become noticeable in the first few months of life. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers are often the first ones to notice the unusual shape of the head, and they usually bring it to the paediatrician’s attention during a regular visit.


For a detailed explanation of the cause, assessment and treatment please watch or educational video. This was compiled to be useful to parents, therapist and referring physicians.

What might be the cause of infant head shape issues?

There are multiple factors that make infant heads susceptible to deformation. The plasticity of the newborn’s skull makes it susceptible to external pressures in the womb during the birth process and after birth.

Deformation occurs in infants who spend prolonged periods in a position that puts pressure on this flexible moldable skull causing deformity. Spontaneous movement may be inhibited prenatally in a restricted uterine environment

If the skull deformity develops postnatally, an initially typical, rounded skull shape may become flattened occipitally because of the static positioning.

Postnatally this could happen because of a lack of tummy time, and excessive times in a carrier, car seat, or stroller, light clothing; or from cultural practices such as swaddling also increase the deformation.

What can I do if my baby an unusual head shape?

The first thing you can do is talk to your paediatrician about your baby’s head. Your paediatrician will assess the severity and make a recommendation of care based on age and severity. In the event your baby is diagnosed with Deformational Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly or Scaphocephaly and is between the ages of 3 and 12 months, your paediatrician or specialist may refer you for therapy and/or to a practitioner who specializes in providing plagiocephaly helmet therapy.

There are common misconceptions surrounding the management of infant head shape issues that need to be dispelled.

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