Plagiocephaly: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatment

It is a term used to catalog babies with a slightly crushed head.

This condition, sometimes known as ” flat head syndrome, ” affects almost one in two babies today.

Plagiocephaly is characterized by the development of a plain in the part of the baby’s skull. It can be generated by multiple factors, especially if the affected person is lying down for a long time on his back.

This happens because the head of a baby is very soft and does not have enough hardness to withstand the pressure of the surfaces of the beds, furniture or seats without deforming.

Does it affect the brain development of the baby?

This condition does not affect the neurological, cognitive or any other type of development of the baby. The only drawback is that if it is not treated by a specialist doctor, the malformation of the skull can last until adulthood, bringing as a consequence the following factors:

  • Asymmetry or facial deformity.
  • In the course of the affected person’s life, he would have problems with adjusting the eye lenses.
  • Sports or safety helmets could not be placed correctly.
  • The bite may be irregular due to the misalignment of the jaw.


This condition can occur in a few weeks and can be categorized with four types of cranial anomalies with different degrees of severity, which are presented below:

Common Plagiocephaly

  • The skull becomes flat in the back.
  • The head from a superior vision can resemble a parallelogram.


  • The skull is usually wider than usual.
  • A flat shape is created on the back of the skull and not curved.

Scaphocephaly :

  • The skull develops with an elongated and narrow shape.
  • The head is usually higher and disproportionate to the baby’s body.

The common characteristics between plagiocephaly, brachycephaly and scaphocephaly are:

  • Front bulging or tilted.
  • Ears misaligned and disproportionate to the size of the skull.
  • Asymmetrical facial features.

Causes of plagiocephaly

This type of disorder or cranial anomaly occurs because of:

  • Before birth the unborn have a posture that hinders the normal development of the skull.
  • The limited space in the uterus such as when there are two or more unborn in the placenta.
  • At birth when the baby is stuck and pulled over the head, it can lead to plagiocephaly.
  • When the baby is born prematurely and is taken to intensive care, they have to be in the same position for the oxygen supply.
  • Bad posture at the time of rest. Body weight is usually placed in the skull.
  • A lot of time in the same position during the course of days.
  • Support the skull on a very hard and not very flexible surface.
  • Sleep with your back resting on the mattress, crib or baby bed.
  • Baby carriers, reclining seats or rocking chairs can lead to the development of plagiocephaly.

Prevention and treatment

It is known that simple practices in the home, including supervised tummy time and repositioning techniques, prevent and improve abnormal head shapes.

That is why the treating physician or specialist in cases of plagiocephaly recommends to the parents of the affected the necessary techniques to solve this anomaly before the skull takes a more solid texture and hinders its improvement.

The usual thing is that repositioned postures are applied for at least two months in a row to begin to see the changes, if the case is very severe, a cranial orthosis must be placed on the baby’s skull, which is a band or helmet that is placed in the affected area to help it mold a normal shape.

This helmet should always be tailored to the skull of the baby to be treated to ensure that cranial corrections are successful. It can be placed in babies that are between 3 to 18 months old.

The exhaustive monitoring and exact execution of the indications of the attending physician, as well as taking the baby rigorously to the medical consultations, will increase the probabilities of getting the affected person to obtain a normal skull without invasive or traumatic interventions for him.

It is important to treat this anomaly in time to ensure a safe and uncomplicated life for the affected baby, because in the process of development and growth, the malformation will be more noticeable, which may incur depressions to be different from others.