Thursday, January 9, 2014

Positional Plagiocephaly


Positional plagiocephaly is the technical term for “flat spot on the head caused by being in one position too much.” Paige has this. (I’m sure you’ve noticed the pictures of her pretty pink helmet!)


At Paige’s 4-month check-up on November 14, her pediatrician pointed out that the back-left part of her head was flat. Cue Mommy guilt – I couldn’t believe he noticed it and I hadn’t! He referred us to a plastic surgeon for a follow-up appointment on December 20. Not because she needs surgery, but because that’s who is in charge of authorizing and adjusting helmets in this area.

Since we had to wait so long for the appointment, I did what I do: I researched. I found that in the meantime, we could try repositioning. This basically meant keeping her off of the flat spot. More tummy time, more Bumbo time, more Johnny jump-up time; less back time, car seat time, swing time, and bouncer time. In fact, I put the swing and bouncer away so we wouldn’t be tempted to use it. We increased tummy time, which was good for increasing her strength anyway.

It didn’t help – actually, I could see the flat spot getting worse. And I knew why. The reason she had it in the first place was because she slept on her back (as babies are supposed to) and turned her head slightly to the left to suck her left thumb. I knew she wouldn’t sleep well on her tummy (and really, you’re not supposed to do tummy for sleep anyway). I tried to put her on her side and she would wiggle to her back.

So we went to her appointment on Dec 20. A tech used a laser scanner to take an image of her head. (I wish I had thought to get a picture of the digital image – it was pretty interesting! Maybe next time.) We waited for the doctor to come speak with us.



She confirmed the plagiocephaly. She also said that the flat spot was causing her left ear to shift forward and also the left part of her forehead. This can cause health complications eventually if not fixed. She said I could get a helmet now, or I could try repositioning and come back in a month. Well, we had already tried that, so I decided to go ahead with the helmet.


She will wear this for 4-6 months, for 23 hours a day. This is a “passive” helmet, which means it does not put any pressure on her head. Instead, it leaves space to allow the head to grow into it in the correct shape.

They told me it will fix the flat spot, and her ear and forehead will go back to where they are supposed to be.

I think the most reassuring thing they told me was, “This happened because you’re doing everything right!” (Meaning: babies are supposed to be on their backs to sleep!) I know this is truly a minor issue, but it still made me sad to get this thing! I’m coming around to it; I know it will be worth it in the end.

And Paige? It took her a couple days to get used to sleeping in it; there was quite a bit of crying at first from our easy-going girl. And she is still extra-smiley during her helmet-free hour a day. But sweet girl won’t let anything get her down for long!

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