What is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly (sometimes called deformational plagiocephaly or positional plagiocephaly) is a very common, very treatable disorder. It causes a baby’s head to have a flattened appearance.

Plagiocephaly develops when an infant’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area, due to repeated pressure on one part of the head. Many babies develop plagiocephaly by sleeping regularly in one position. This condition occurs more often in premature infants whose skulls are especially pliable.

Treatment for plagiocephaly usually includes special exercises, varying sleep position or wearing corrective headbands or using molding cups.

Children with plagiocephaly often see a plastic surgeon or neurosurgeon to make sure they do not have craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is when the skull bones meld together and create an abnormal head shape that can look like plagiocephaly. However, unlike plagiocephaly, craniosynostosis requires surgery.

Care for plagiocephaly

Here at Boston Children’s Hospital, we have a long history of treating plagiocephaly and other types of brain and skull malformations that affect children. Experts in our Departments of Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery work together to diagnose and treat children with plagiocephaly and other craniofacial anomalies. We are even able to diagnose some of these problems while babies are still in the womb.

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