EXPERT ADVICE: Does my child have a flat head?

Learn why your child’s head is flat and find out how this condition can be corrected.

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Making sure your baby sleeps on his back can prevent him from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but it may cause him to develop Flat Head syndrome.

This syndrome comes in two forms: plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. In the former, the back of your child’s head is flattened on either the left or the right side. On the other hand, brachycephaly occurs when the back of bubba’s head is flattened. This often results in the head being widened, especially when seen from the front.

Common flat head syndrome causes:

* Sleeping position The most common cause of flat head syndrome is when baby favours sleeping on one side over the other side or on his back. If your child is below than 5 months, make sure to change his sleeping position regularly to prevent him getting flat head syndrome.

If your child is below than 5 months, make sure to change his sleeping position regularly to prevent him getting flat head syndrome.

* Wry (twisted) neck/Torticollis The neck muscles on one side of his body are shortened, so that your mini-me tilts his head more on one side.

* Craniosynostosis In this severe health condition, one or more of your infant’s bones in the skull or face fuse too quickly, which results in an abnormal head shape. He will also be referred to a neurosurgeon as surgery may be required.

Signs of flat head syndrome — both plagiocephaly and brachycephaly — can be spotted from as early as 6 to 8 weeks of age. Dr Kong Juin Yee, a consultant neonatologist at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, says the flattening of your child’s head will likely stop once he gains better control of it — typically at around 3 months of age. Infants aged 6 months or older may need to wear a specially-designed helmet to reshape the head. Dr Kong answers questions about the condition…

What are some tests carried out to determine if my child has flat head syndrome?

A careful patient history is taken from the caregivers and thorough physical examination is usually done to test for flat head syndrome that occurs due to sleep positioning. On the other hand, flat head syndrome that is caused by craniosynostosis may need X-rays, ultrasounds or even a 3D computerised tomography (CT) scan of the head to confirm the fusion of baby’s skull bones.