Plagiocephaly | Symptoms and Causes

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact the Cleft and Craniofacial Center

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?

Many babies develop plagiocephaly by sleeping regularly in one position, or by spending a lot of time sitting in the same position in a car seat or swing. Studies show that 20 to 25 percent of infants who sleep on their back develop plagiocephaly. 

Other causes of plagiocephaly include:

  • Position in the womb or pressure during birth. Because infants’ skulls are so soft, they are often a bit misshapen from the normal birthing process. Babies who are part of a multiple birth or who have a mother with a small birth canal 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. 
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

Close