Worried about your baby’s flat head?
What happens to a baby with a flat head?
Let’s start with the short term effects:
- At 8.5 months of age (average) –
- 20% had some mild psychomotor delays
- 13% had some significant psychomotor delays
- The average for delays in the general population is 7%
- Before any intervention, infants with deformational plagiocephaly show significant delays in both mental and psychomotor development
- Changes in muscle tone – increased or decreased at an average 8 months of age
- Changes in motor function noticed at 6 months of age
Therefore brain development may be altered very early on with flat heads!
What about long term studies?
- Increased risk of auditory processing disorders in almost 100%
Increased risk of visual processing disorders – 35%
Increased risk of requiring learning assistance
Increased requirement of a special class, eg. Reading recovery
At 5 years of age, 33% had received learning assistance
14% were in a special class
39.7% with persistent deformational plagiocephaly had received special help in primary school
Only 7.7% of siblings required similar help
Delayed language acquisition at 3.5 years of age in 51%
Continued developmental issues during preschool found in children who had delays in infancy and plagiocephaly
One study has compared a group of infants (4 months of age and older) with neck dysfunction, and those with no neck problem. They assessed the children using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and found the following:
- Neck dysfunction – 41% had one or more delays
- No neck problem – 29% had one or more delays
- The greatest number of delays was seen in:
- Gross motor domain (18%)
- Problem solving (17%)
- Personal–social (15%)
- Fine motor (14%)
- Communication (7%)
So… What do I do for my baby’s flat head?
Make an appointment with your baby chiropractor to have both the head and the neck (and spine) assessed – including:
- A complete birth and medical history
- A head measurement
- A complete neurological and reflex examination to ensure there is nothing else underlying and causing the flat head
- A complete spinal assessment – including hips (did you know that hip dysplasia is sometimes associated with flat heads?)
- If you would prefer, have your baby checked by your maternal and child health nurse, or your paediatrician (but make sure they are aware of the research!)
Since the research indicates that babies with neck issues have increased rates of developmental delays as compared with babies without neck issues, wouldn’t it make sense to have your baby’s neck checked?
Chiropractic Treatment for Baby Flat Heads
Chiropractic is has an exemplary safety record, is gentle and effective for babies.
Please be aware that recommendations to turn your baby’s head in the opposite direction to the flat spot will not remove any underlying neck issue or birth trauma, if present. Imagine if you had a sore neck – would you want to turn into the painful position?
The sooner any neck issue is found and corrected, the better chance your baby’s head has of returning to a rounder shape, because the flatness reduces as their head grows.
Be aware of the research – if anyone tells you that it is purely cosmetic, you will know otherwise. There is additional research being done every day on this area!
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