What is the purpose of the skull deformation

Against the flat baby head

Baby | Sleep | Development, physically

Since the supine position has been recommended for babies as a sleeping position, skull deformations (occipital plagiocephaly) have become more common. A study by the University of Giessen examined whether stretching exercises for the neck muscles or positioning pillows are better suited to preventing the head from flattening.

50 babies under 5 months of age with deformed skulls were treated either with stretching exercises of the neck muscles (by parents following previous instructions) or by lying on the BabyDorm pillow. After six weeks of treatment, an examination was carried out using standardized measurements. An improvement was observed in all children, a little more when using the special positioning cushion than when stretching alone. Overall, the number of children with severe and moderate deformities fell by 17.7% with physiotherapy and by 19.1% with the use of the positioning pillow.

Experts agree that the observed increase in skull deformities is due to the "Back to Sleep" campaign (recommendation to lie on your back to avoid sudden infant death syndrome). Study data show that the malleability of a child's head is greatest in the first few weeks of life. Risk factors are above all one-sided positioning both during sleep and e.g. during bottle-feeding, lying on the prone less than three times a day and delayed achievement of motor development stages. The problem is not just an external one: later functional disorders of the brain cannot be ruled out. Language development problems, for example, may be associated with it.

The current recommendations for preventing positional plagiocephalus are: Alternate positioning of the head to the left or right while sleeping and in the prone position for half an hour to a full hour per day when the baby is awake or can be monitored directly. Long-term storage in car seats or baby seats and baby bouncers should also be avoided. Visual stimuli (e.g. a picture) on the non-flattened side of the head in the cot or a corresponding positioning of the cot are also effective. If none of this helps, physiotherapy or osteopathy or a special positioning pillow are the means of choice.

Source: G. Krandick: Monthly Children's Health Care; 2013: 161 (3): 188-189

Last update: 18-02-21, BH