Although it’s common for newborns to have misshapen heads after birth, typically the shape resolves itself within a few days. However, a misshapen head that persists should be evaluated for craniosynostosis. Early diagnosis is important for the proper development of your baby’s brain and skull.
Immediately following birth (9 to 36 months), your baby’s brain undergoes an extremely rapid phase of growth and development. The infant’s skull consists of individual bone plates held together by fibrous connective tissues called sutures. Cranial bones remain separate for about 12 to 18 months.
During infancy and childhood, the sutures are flexible. This allows the brain to grow quickly and protects the brain from minor impacts to the head, such as when your baby is learning to hold his or her head up. Without the flexibility of these skull sutures, your baby’s brain can’t grow properly.
If you think your baby has a type of craniosynostosis, it’s important to get a proper assessment as soon as possible.
Our pediatric neurosurgeons and our cranial remolding experts treat the four main types of craniosynostosis. In some instances, babies are born with combinations of these major forms. The different types of craniosynostosis also bring with them specific medical complications. Every child’s medical circumstances are different and we address the individual complexities of that specific cranial condition.
The four major types of craniosynostosis include saggital suture, metopic suture, coronal suture and lambdoid suture synostosis. The location of the suture that is affected leads to a specific abnormal head shape.
The sagittal suture is located on the midline, on top of the skull and extends from the soft spot towards the back of the head.
Sagittal Suture Synostosis is the most common type of single suture synostosis and predominantly affects males. The suture is located at the midline, on top of the skull and extends from the soft spot towards the back of the head. Sagittal synostosis causes a shape that’s long and narrow, known as scaphocephaly. As the head grows in this long and narrow direction, the back of the head becomes prominent, pointed and the forehead protrudes. There is a low risk of abnormal brain growth and development. This form of synostosis is generally easy to diagnose by one of our physicians, and with further tests, our team can ensure a proper plan for you and your family.
The Coronal Suture is located on the side of the skull and extends from the soft spot to an area just in front of the ear.
Coronal Suture Synostosis affects the side of the skull where the forehead and the frontal lobe grow and expand forward. When this suture closes too early, the condition is known as anterior plagiocephaly (a merge from either the right or left side of the coronal suture that runs from ear to ear). With this type of craniosynostosis, the forehead is sunken and flattened, and the eye socket is elevated and tilted. You will also notice your baby’s eyes protruding, while the nose deviates to the opposite side. Your baby may want to tilt their head to the side in order to prevent seeing double - this is a major indicator of this type of craniosynostosis and a result of Coronal Suture Synostosis being untreated.
This midline suture is located in the middle of the forehead and extends from the soft spot to the root of the nose.
Metopic Suture Synostosis affects the middle area of a baby’s forehead, and extends from the soft spot to the root of the nose. Both frontal lobes expand forward and sideways, and the eye socket will move to either side resulting in eyes lying closely together. When early closure occurs it can result in the baby developing an upwards bump, or midline ridge, and the forehead will slant backwards giving the forehead a triangular appearance when viewed from above. The back of the head will then protrude, due to the brain growing in that particular direction.
Premature closure of the lambdoid suture is the least common of all forms of craniosynostosis and has been frequently confused with positional molding of the head.
Lambdoid Suture Synostosis is the least common of all types of craniosynostosis. A premature closure in lambdoid suture synostosis results in the flattening of the back of a baby’s skull on the affected side, protrusion of the bone behind the ear, the mastoid bone, and lowering of the affected ear. This particular case may also cause the skull to tilt sideways.