In the 1990s, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised mothers to lay their infants on their backs when sleeping or resting to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Although this recommendation significantly reduced infant deaths due to SIDS, it led to the prevalence of cranial asymmetry in infants. This problem occurs when your infant develops positional deformation around the base of their skull. Fortunately, this complication can easily be corrected. This article will tell more about correcting cranial asymmetry in children.
What’s Cranial Asymmetry?
Also referred to as plagiocephaly, cranial asymmetry is the premature closing of one or more cranial sutures. Sutures are the free-floating bone plates in an infant’s skull connected by fibrous material. Several factors are associated with the premature fusion of one or more of these sutures, including premature birth, multiple births, crowding in the womb, congenital muscular torticollis (CMT), and positional preference of one spot on the head.
Cranial asymmetry also occurs during or after long labors or due to poor muscle tone, tightening and position of neck muscles, and spine defects. But the leading cause of this skull deformation is placing your infant’s head in one position for a long time. Cranial asymmetry is characterized by an asymmetrical shape of the infant’s head. If you place your infant on their back for prolonged periods, especially during sleep, one side of their skull will appear flattened. In other cases, their forehead and ear on the affected side of their skull will be pushed forward.
How to Correct Cranial Asymmetry
Although an asymmetrical shape of your infant’s skull may appear odd, it shouldn’t concern you because a baby’s skull rounds out over time. Even flat spots can easily be corrected by changing your baby’s sleeping positions and increasing their tummy time when playing. But if your baby’s cranial asymmetry is severe, it can be corrected through molded helmet rehabilitation. In extremely severe cases of cranial asymmetry, the doctor may recommend surgery, especially if the sutures are fused too early, leaving no room for the infant’s brain to develop fully.
Helmet therapy can correct cranial asymmetry cases. It involves wrapping your infant’s skull in a molded helmet that will gently correct the shape of the skull over time. Since the baby’s skull is still developing, the helmet will remodel its form by preventing growth and allowing flattened areas to grow. The helmet has a hard outer layer and a foamy inner lining.