Plagiocephaly: What Is It and How Can I Prevent It?
Plagiocephaly is a fancy word for flat head syndrome, and more specifically flattening on one side of the head. Plagiocephaly and other types of flattening of the head has become somewhat common in today’s infants. Since the initiation of the Back to Sleep program in 1992, SIDS has decreased more than 50%, from 1.2/1000 babies prior to 1992 to 0.54/1000 babies by 2005. During this time we have also seen a significant increase in positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome.
Why? Well, prior to 1992, babies naturally incorporated plenty of tummy time by sleeping on their tummies, waking up and playing on their tummies. Today’s parents, however, must be intentional about providing that same tummy time. Without adequate focus on teaching parents how to incorporate safe tummy time, we are now seeing almost 50% of normal babies with flat head syndrome at 7-12 weeks. Depending on the severity, many will say the flat spot is of little concern. But as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, my concern is what that flat spot means, and typically, it means NOT ENOUGH awake & happy TUMMY TIME. Tummy time is the foundation for ALL other developmental skills. Not just gross motor skills like rolling and crawling, but fine motor skills, visual skills, sensory processing and cognitive skills for learning and attention too. Even with slight flattening of the head, babies can quickly develop tight muscles in the neck and throughout the body, making normal movement patterns harder. Each motor milestone during the first year of life has a purpose for future development, skill acquisition and/or learning. Intervening early is the key to preventing plagiocephaly and the developmental delays associated with it. Join us for our next group class with locations in Sarasota and Bradenton.