Important Information and Updates About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) LEARN MORE >
Our Neuroscience Center of Excellence
Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery

What Is Plagiocephaly?

Why Plagiocephaly Is Not a Form of Craniosynostosis

Plagiocephaly, also called positional plagiocephaly or deformational plagiocephaly is diagnosed when the back or side of your baby’s head has a flat spot. Some babies begin to form deformational plagiocephaly while in utero – sometimes caused by a certain position and more prevalent due to positioning issues with multiple births.

This condition, which is not considered a type of craniosynostosis, can affect a baby’s appearance in varying degrees. The head, face, eyes, jaw or ears - or all of these features - may look uneven or asymmetrical. In the more serious condition, called craniosynostosis, sutures within the infant’s head are prematurely fused together causing a potential deformity to the skull and in some cases leads to increased intracranial pressure. Plagiocephaly, on the other hand, tends to misshape the back of the head – caused by repeated pressure to the same area of the head.

The number of babies diagnosed with different types of plagiocephaly has increased. Because parents are advised to put their infants to sleep on their back to avoid the risk of SIDS, misshapen heads are more prone to develop.

Your doctor can give you helpful information on how to avoid this flat head condition that causes mild to severe changes affecting your child’s overall appearance.

Other cases of plagiocephaly are caused by a wry neck (torticollis) – a baby’s persistent preference to turn their head one way versus the other or to constantly tilt their head either to the right or to the left.

If your baby’s flat spot or asymmetry in their face doesn’t correct itself after you follow repositioning techniques or physical therapy, then you may need to consult with one of our orthotists, craniofacial or neurosurgeons.

When caught early, most often between four to six months old, many mild to moderate cases of positional plagiocephaly can be treated with helmet therapy to correct the shape of your child’s head.

Back to Top