Plagiocephaly | Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly causes a flattened appearance on one side of a baby’s head. This is typically the only symptom; it is not painful and does not affect the baby’s day-to-day life or abilities.

What are the causes of plagiocephaly?

Most babies develop plagiocephaly by sleeping regularly in one position. Studies show that 20 to 25 percent of infants who sleep on their back develop some degree of plagiocephaly. 

Other causes of plagiocephaly include:

  • Position in the womb. Because infants’ skulls are so soft, they are often a bit misshapen from the normal birthing process, but this does not cause plagiocephaly. Babies who are part of a multiple birth or who have a mother with a small uterus may be especially likely to have plagiocephaly.
  • Prematurity. Many premature babies spend extended periods of time in a fixed position while they recover in the neonatal intensive care unit. This often leads to plagiocephaly.
  • Muscular torticollis. This is a shortening of the muscle in one side of the neck, causing the head to tilt in one direction. 

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