Baby Physical Growth: Skull Shape

Dr. Allan Greene answers the question, Why is one side of my baby's head flat?

Question

One side of my newborn's head is flat and the other isn't. Do you think she will grow out of it or will it shape itself?

Answer

There are several reasons that one side of the head may be flat. The most common is positional plagiocephaly, where it flattens from sleeping on the same side and spending a lot of time lying down. This is not a serious problem and it will usually correct itself over time.

You might speed this up by alternating the end of the crib where you put her head so she will be motivated to look more in both directions. Kids often spend a lot of time looking toward the door or whatever is most interesting in the room. Also, the more hours she is supported sitting or upright, the less time spent reinforcing the flattening. The head tends to stop flattening when the baby's head is up most of the day.

The skull is made up of a number of bones to allow for head growth and to make delivery possible. These plates slide -- otherwise babies would have to have tiny heads or mothers would have to have larger hips. The sutures are supposed to close eventually. They might close early because they were left overlapping after delivery, though most babies with overlapping sutures will still have them close on time.

Rarely, the head will be flat in one area because the suture lines between two of the skull's bony plates have grown together. This is a different condition called craniosynostosis and this one does not improve on its own.

 

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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