Millions of babies each year are being diagnosed with Flathead Syndrome in the US alone.
A new study from Calgary-Alberta-based Mount Royal University found further evidence that Flat Head Syndrome is on the rise. The study found that out of 440 healthy infants sampled, 47 percent of babies ages 7 to 12 weeks had some form of Flathead Syndrome (positional plagiocephaly and torticollis).
Every baby is at risk for developing Plagiocephaly (a flattening of the skull) or Torticollis (an imbalance in the neck muscles). Infants are born with very soft skulls, their heads are heavy and their neck muscles are weak. These qualities along with the fact that infants spend the majority of their time sleeping on their backs, promote the right environment for baby to develop some form of Flathead Syndrome within the first six months of life. Many studies have now shown too that Flathead Syndrome may not only be cosmetic. Babies may also develop sight and hearing abnormalities as well as developmental delays as a result of having Flathead Syndrome.
By incorporating some simple repositioning strategies parents can help prevent development of Plagiocephaly. Some of these strategies can include:
Correct Positioning is imperative; reposition your baby’s head every 2-3 hours during your waking hours. Encourage the infant to turn their head in the opposite direction from the preferred side.
In addition, try the following:
Feeding – alternate the arm in which the infant is held for both the bottle and breast feeding.
Diaper Changes – stand on the opposite side of the changing table each time to encourage baby to turn their head to a different side in order to see you.
Sleeping – Place baby’s head at opposite ends of the crib on alternate nights. Baby can wear a Tortle for optimal alignment during any supervised sleep time throughout the day.
The Tortle is an FDA-approved, simple, safe, and comfortable beanie designed to aid parents in positioning their infants. By switching the Tortle from side to side, parents alleviate the flat spots and neck tightness that newborns often develop.
Tummy Time – The more time baby can spend playing with supervision on their tummy, the better. Get down on the floor at baby’s eye level, and play stimulating games during tummy time. While most babies are resistant to tummy time at first, it should become more enjoyable as they become more familiar with the position. Starting tummy time when your infant is very young will help with this.
Travel – Car seats and strollers keep our babies safe when traveling, but are another important place to remember repositioning the baby every few hours. Even while wearing babies in slings or carriers, reposition often to prevent the development of flat spots or imbalanced neck muscles.
Fortunately, Flat Head Syndrome is almost always preventable, especially when parents and caregivers are educated about the issue and proactive in their prevention efforts. Speak with your pediatrician about plagiocephaly and torticollis. Get informed and be prepared before your baby is born. Help spread awareness by talking to your friends and family. There are numerous online resources for information and support from other families who have had a baby diagnosed with flat head syndrome. Through education and awareness we can keep our babies heads beautiful and round!
Dr. Jane Scott
Board Certified Neonatologist,
Pediatrician, and Founder of Tortle Products, LLC
As a neonatologist and pediatrician, babies and moms are Dr. Jane’s life. Not only does she have first-hand experience as a mother – she had four premature babies – she works with infants who have severe medical conditions and understands how difficult this can be for families.
Born in Kenya, Dr. Jane attended the University of Western Australia Medical School in Perth. Years later, after moving to the United States, she attended the University of Colorado Medical School and completed her residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Neonatology at Duke University while simultaneously raising four young children. She was soon recruited to build up St. Luke’s Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho from a Level 1 NICU to a Level 3A NICU. She returned to Colorado in 2010 and currently practices in Centennial.
Throughout her career, Dr. Jane has worked with parents to help avoid and correct problems associated with an abnormal head shape, known as positional plagiocephaly. The incidence of this condition has increased dramatically, from parents following the protocol introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics of placing babies only on their backs to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
In addition to educating new parents on the prevention of plagiocephaly, Dr. Jane created Tortle, a non-invasive affordable solution that not only treats mild cases and early diagnosed positional plagiocephaly and torticollis in young infants, but can prevent it from ever occurring. The Tortle is a patented, FDA cleared device that Jane hopes will eradicate flat head syndrome while allowing moms to safely follow AAP’s important Back to Sleep protocol. Dr. Jane is currently writing her first book which is slated for release in Spring 2014.
Dr. Jane’s work is her passion, but when she’s not working she enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.
For more information visit www.tortle.com. Watch this informative video too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA7MPnyXUcY&feature=share
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