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Close to 50 percent of babies studied have been found to have plagiocephaly, a generally reversible condition that renders a baby's head slightly flattened, USA Today reported, citing a recently published Pediatrics study.
Plagiocephaly has been attributed to caregiving or sleep positions.
The condition has been connected to an increased awareness of baby sleeping positions that prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is avoided by always placing the baby on its back.
However, doctors advise that babies should still be placed in the position, as plagiocephaly can be cured.
A campaign that was launched in 1992 encouraged parents to position their babies to sleep on their backs. Now, more than 20 years later, the recorded cases of SIDS have decreased. However, with this decrease in mortality also comes an increased awareness of cases of plagiocephally, with baby heads getting misshapen or flattened because of too much time for babies sleeping on their backs.
Previous studies had placed positional plagiocephaly from 3 percent to 61 percent. The recent sampling of 440 healthy babies found the condition in 47 percent of babies aged 7 to 12.
"By this age, plagiocephaly resulting from the use of forceps or other instruments during delivery typically would have resolved, says researcher Aliyah Mawji, an assistant professor of nursing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada," USA Today wrote.
Mawji added that flat spots on the baby's head could be a sign that the baby had not been given enough position corrections to avoid an ongoing pressure on one side of the baby's head.
"Of the 205 infants in the study observed to have some form of plagiocephaly, 78% were classified as having a mild form, 19% moderate; 3% severe. Most infants (63%) were affected on the right side of the head," USA Today wrote.
Plagiocephaly may be reversed through non-invasive measures, as well as physical therapy. In case the condition does not improve or worsens in the next six months, the baby will be referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon who will decide whether the baby would need a skull-shaping helmet as well as other interventions.
USA Today also listed the Pediatrics advice to prevent plagiocephaly:
- "'Tummy time' when the infant is awake and supervised.
- Changing the direction that the infant lies in the crib from one week to the next.
- Avoiding too much time in car seats, carriers and bouncers while the infant is awake.
- Changing the location of the infant's crib in the room so that the child has to look in different directions to see the door or the window."