MaternityNewborn

How to prevent and treat Plagiocephaly in newborns

Plagiocephaly is the deformation of a newborns skull. Increasing your knowledge on this condition could make all the difference to your babys’ well being.

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As is well known, prevention is better than cure. However, in order to prevent, it is necessary to know the different issues that can occur with a newborn.

Plagiocephaly is certainly no exception to this rule.

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Positional plagiocephaly is a little-known syndrome that has become more prevalent over the past two decades as birth rates have increased. Knowing about this problem could make all the difference in the well-being of your child and the children of your friends and acquaintances if you inform them of what you will read below.

What is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is a deformation of the skull in newborns that occurs when pressure on the infant’s little head is concentrated in a specific area for a consistent duration of time on a regular basis. While we adults do not suffer from this problem and can sleep in any position we like, infants are susceptible to skull deformities because their bone structure is not yet permanently formed.
The little head of newborns is malleable because of the membranous fontanel that hugs the space between the slots that will need to close between the bones that form the skull. Babies are born with a skull that is not fully formed and malleable so that delivery is possible and sustainable for mothers.

Positional plagiocephaly is most commonly seen in the infant’s first three months of life, when the skull is in its most vulnerable condition due to extrinsic forces. During these three months, infants spend a lot of time lying on their backs, as they have yet to develop the ability to turn on themselves.

Why are cases of Plagiocephaly increasingly common?

The reason behind the increase in the number of cases of Plagiocephaly in the last twenty years can be recognized in the recommendations coming from high ranking sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which informs us that having our babies sleep in the supine position significantly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

For example, in February 1999, an official statement was issued in Canada notifying of the change in course: from this time, it was recommended that infants be placed on their backs to avoid the risk of SIDS.

As a result of this recommendation, concerns are subsequently raised in Canada about an increase in cases of positional plagiocephaly. Similar cases are being reported around the world, especially as a result of highly successful campaigns such as Back to Sleep. Whereas in the past, Plagiocephaly was found in 1 in 100 infants (0.3% of the infant population), in the last 10-15 years many centers have reported significant changes in this statistic with rates as high as 43%.

How to prevent Plagiocephaly

There is a wealth of evidence to support the fact that placing babies on their backs during sleeping hours significantly reduces the number of cases of sudden death due to SIDS. Therefore, we would certainly not recommend placing your baby on his or her stomach, although doing so during waking hours and under the close supervision of an adult could play a very important role in preventing Plagiocephaly. From the beginning, your baby might not like this position, so here are some tips that might help you:

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Each time you change your little one, place him or her on the tummy.

Every day try to add a minute in this position: this will help your baby slowly get used to lying on his tummy for longer and longer.

You can lie on the floor, positioning yourself on your belly, right in front of your newborn: this is an excellent way to provide security and interact with the baby during the moments when he is lying on his tummy. Your position will give the baby an extra reason to lie on its tummy and watch you.

Placing a towel or rolled-up blanket under the little one’s chest with his or her arms extended toward you can provide additional support. Your hand placed under the little one’s chin can be helpful in supporting or bracing the little head while the neck gains strength.

Other tips related to placement: 

  • Position your newborn in a different spot in the crib each time you prepare him or her for a nap. Since babies generally like to turn themselves out when they sleep, this will encourage them to turn their little heads in different directions at each nap, helping to prevent the pressure that would be created if they were positioned the same way all the time.
  • You can place a colorful toy in the crib or a mirror on the crib, so you can try to keep the baby in the desired position.
  • Be sure to limit the amount of time your baby spends in car seats, bouncers, and other infant carriers.

Koala Babycare pillow for plagiocephaly

All of the tips above will certainly make a difference in preventing Plagiocephaly and ensuring your baby’s well-being. However, while getting your baby used to lying on his or her tummy may be a time-consuming process, Koala Babycare can provide you with a quick and convenient solution, ensuring that you are doing all you can for your baby while teaching him or her to lie on their tummy.

The Koala Babycare Pillow for Plagiocephaly ensures effectiveness and protection for your baby and you can use it in all those moments when your baby is in the supine position (we always recommend your supervision in the first 6 months of life). The pillow is equipped with breathable cotton pillowcases and a high quality German Memory Foam. The pillow is adaptable and you can use it anywhere from cribs to bouncers, making it ideal for travel or days out.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Koala Babycare Pillow for Plagiocephaly comes with two replacement pillowcases and has a two-year warranty, so it really pays to make this small investment in your baby’s well-being.

Find the pillow HERE. Let us know which of our tips worked for you and your little one!

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