It’s a condition that impacts one in five children – flat head syndrome. This week, researchers at the University of Sydney published their new recommendations for parents who have children with this seemingly harmless condition.
Parents Urged to Pay Close Attention to Flat Head Syndrome
Flat head syndrome is not something that has just developed but it is something that is becoming increasingly more common after the SIDS safety guidelines suggest babies be put to sleep on their backs. As a baby is asleep on his back, his head tends to lay flat. Because a baby’s head is still soft and malleable, this extra pressure can cause his head to flatten.
Flat head syndrome, also known as positional plagiocephaly, is usually noticed in children up to the age of 18 months.
An estimated one in five infants will be affected by this condition and, while they may grow out if it, studies have now shown that flat head syndrome could indicate more serious health and developmental concerns.
The connection between flat head syndrome and developmental delays
After careful observation of 19 different studies, researchers at the University of Sydney uncovered that this condition is often linked to many developmental delays in:
- fine motor skills (such as holding a spoon)
- gross motor skills (such as walking)
- language and speech (such as sounding out letters correctly)
- cognition skills (such as understanding one’s name)
These delays were most common in infants up to the age of two but some delays persisted to preschool and beyond.
Associate Professor at the University of Sydney states, “We make the recommendation that children with flat head be assessed for developmental delays.”
Most children with flat head syndrome will be fine
After examining the 19 different studies, the researchers conclude that “about 10-25 percent of the children with flat head syndrome were recognised of having a developmental delay.” However, this number varied from 3 per cent to 51 per cent depending on the study.
One study also concluded that “children with a flat head were up to ten times more likely to experience developmental delays than children without it.”
What should parents do?
However, parents are urged to offer babies plenty of tummy time while awake and supervised. Using a carrier can also provide another position for bub that helps strengthen his neck and decreases the pressure on his head.
If you do notice your child does have a flat head, see your doctor. It’s always a good idea to have it checked out, just in case.
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