Plagiocephaly is a condition which causes one sided head flattening and can lead to your child having a head turning preference (preferring to look in one direction). Plagiocephaly is more common in boys than girls and also more prevalent in babies that are overdue. The incidence of plagiocephaly is on the rise since the Back to Sleep campaign (1994), as fewer babies are spending time on their tummy for play (for more information on tummy time, please click here.
Positional plagiocephaly is usually picked up by parents noticing that their child prefers looking to one side; this is especially notable when the baby is asleep. There is usually obvious head flattening and sometimes less hair over the flatter area. There can also be facial asymmetry and mal alignment of the ears when the head is looked at from an aerial view. Often a plagiocephaly can be associated with torticollis, which is tightening on one of the muscles of the neck, which makes it difficult for baby to look in the opposite direction.
Parents are often reassured by health care professionals that plagiocephaly will resolve on its own. However it is advisable that parents seek out physiotherapy advice and management as early as possible to improve long term outcomes and prevent complications such as torticollis and developmental delay.
Plagiocephaly can vary in presentation from mild to severe, it is vital to ensure that that head flattening does not limit your child’s developmental potential. Physiotherapy can provide specific techniques through directed play to improve turning to the opposite side and head shape, as well stretches to the neck if there is a torticollis.
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