Babies’ flat spots are not uncommon these days. Many newborns into their early months have a flattened or misshapen head. Those flat spots are being caused because of a campaign that was launched in 1992. At that time, doctors began suggesting that parents have their babies sleep on their backs. The advice is good. Since the campaign began, doctors have reported a 50 percent decrease in the infant mortality rate in the United States based on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, better known as SIDS.
The babies’ flat spots condition is scientifically known as positional plagiocephaly, and it is caused when a newborn spends too much time on their back for the first few months of life.
Several studies have suggested that positional plagiocephaly can now be witnessed in anywhere between 3 percent to 61 percent of all children. In one study, 440 children were examined, and 47 percent of babies aged 7 to 12 weeks had the condition.
The condition, with proper care by a child’s parents, is able to correct itself. In fact, when forceps or other instruments are used during delivery, the resulting positional plagiocephaly usually resolves itself by the 7 to 12 week marker.
The study, which is published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, notes that a child needs to be repositioned throughout the day to prevent pressure buildup on the flat areas, which in turn gradually corrects head shape.
A 2011 clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that a baby’s flat spots are “generally benign and reversible.” In some severe anomalies, surgical intervention may be required.
Health professionals warn parents to watch for a babies flat spots, and, if the positional plagiocephaly does not correct or worsens by 6 months, the parent should seek referrals for a pediatric neurosurgeon.
The National Institutes of Health remind parents that a babies flat spots are still safer than SIDS, and therefore a child should still be placed on their back to sleep.
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