Flat Head Syndrome
There are two main types of Flat Head syndrome:
– Positional Plagiocephaly (the most common), with a flattening on one side of the head; ears may appear misaligned; the forehead and face seem to bulge on the flat side.
– Brachycephaly, with a flattening of the back of the head.

In most cases, a Flat Head syndrome does not affect brain development or growth, and the head shape may improve over time. In very rare occasions (1:25,000-100000 births), a flattened head can be caused by the premature closure of the cranial sutures and fontanelles not letting enough space for the brain to grow; this is known as Craniosynostosis; corrective surgery may then be needed.

What are the main causes of Flat Head Syndrome?
– Baby always sleeping on their back, BUT it is important they do so to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
– Difficulties during labour e.g. use of Forceps, ventouse, long labour.
– Compression of baby’s head in the womb.
– Prematurity: baby’s head is very soft and baby may prefer to rest on one side without yet being able to move head around.
– Neck muscle tightness.
– Cervical and/or thoracic restrictions.

Some signs other than cosmetic aspect:
– Feeding difficulties.
– Limited neck movement, head tilted.
– Preference to lie only on one side.

What to do?
Your health visitor or GP will check baby and provide advice. It is important to take pressure of the flattened part of baby’s head, by:
– increasing tummy time during the day when playing.
– encouraging baby to turn head by placing toys around the cot
– playing with baby and calling to turn head.
– holding baby alternatively on both sides when feeding.
– using different positions when carrying baby.
– reducing time baby lies on a firm flat surface – try using a sling or front carrier to alternate with baby in pram.

Your osteopath can help alongside your paediatrician/health visitor, advice on exercises and address issues such as neck muscle tightness and other restrictions. The sooner baby is seen, the better.