Since 1992, physicians have been seeing an increase in head and neck issues in infants. That was the year that the American Academy of Pediatrics began educating parents to lay children on their backs, in an effort to decrease sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Although the "Back to Sleep" campaign has been successful, decreasing crib deaths by nearly 50 percent, deformities such as plagiocephaly (a flattening of the head) and torticollis (constricted neck muscles) have been on the rise because infants, when placed on their backs, have limited opportunities to move and stretch.
James Laughlin, M.D., a pediatrician in Bloomington, Indiana, and a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), was the primary author of "Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities," which is the AAP's recent policy statement on the issue of plagiocephaly and torticollis, says there are a number of preventative measures that parents can take. First and foremost, he says, it's important that parents continue placing infants on their backs to sleep.
He offers the following tips:
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