Plagiocephaly | Symptoms and Causes

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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. 
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