In the early 1990s, a study on the habit of laying children on their stomachs found that it caused an increase in sudden infant death, so doctors advised that children sleep on their backs and with their heads on one side.
Since then the percentage of sudden deaths has been reduced by almost half, however cases of plagiocephaly, better known as flat head syndrome, have increased considerably.
Recent studies have found that up to 48% of healthy children under one year of age suffer from it. This may be due to several factors: the first is due to compression in the maternal uterus after the insertion in the ninth month of gestation and, later, due to a continuous support on the same side of the head.
The problem is that babies who spend too much time lying on the back of the head, or on one side only, can have this deformity because the bones of the head are very soft in the first months of life and move with ease to facilitate brain growth.
No need to worry, as this deformity has not been scientifically proven to involve other learning disorders or in some cerebral faculty, but it is simply an aesthetic question. Still, as it is a deformity, it should be treated, especially when it comes to severe situations.
The best thing for these cases is to prevent it with a few simple steps to follow:
1- Always put the child on his back, but alternating the support sides. For this it is better to place the child each time on one side of the crib, since they usually have a tendency to look towards the door or towards their toys.
2- If the child has trouble sleeping on his side, it is advisable to put a roll cushion that we can fasten with a velcro to your pajamas so that it does not come off of it.
3- Try to get the stimuli that catch your attention (mobiles, toys, sounds ...) come from a different place each time so that move your head as much as possible, thus strengthening the neck muscles, since it is often associated with torticollis.
4- Avoid head support as much as possible, trying to transport it in backpacks, or arms.
5- Put him to play face down for a little while every day.
6- Mobilize the head doing exercises every day after bathing for five minutes, turning the chin to the shoulder, and holding it for a few seconds, and the same to the opposite side.
In the most severe cases, something that the pediatrician must diagnose, there is the possibility of placing a corrective helmet between 4 and 12 months of age. The percentage of effectiveness varies depending on the age and the severity of the deformity, although it is usually higher than 80% of the cases; and only in very serious situations should surgery be used.
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