What are the causes of plagiocephaly?

las causas de la plagiocefalia

Plagiocephaly can have several causes. In this article we explain it to you. Plagiocephaly is a word that comes from Greek and means oblique head, a child’s head that is asymmetrical or flattened.

Plagiocephaly is a very common cranial deformity in babies, the skull takes on a singular rhombus shape. The eye on the same side may also be seen more open and the ear more forward.


Sometimes a head x-ray is needed to exclude more serious causes of skull deformity, e.g. craniosynostosis, which may require surgical treatment.

The problem of Plagiocephaly ranges from 5% to 48% of newborns. One of the causes may be compression forces against the soft bones of the baby’s head before birth, as in the case of twins, or as a result of early descent into the pelvis. During the birth process, excessive forces can also cause deformation of the skull.

Main causes of plagiocephaly

  • Position in the womb. Sometimes the position in which a baby is lying in the womb can cause plagiocephaly.
  • Torticollis. Torticollis is a condition in which the baby prefers to face one direction rather than another. The baby will face in that direction, and will also sleep with its head facing in the favoured direction.
  • Sleeping position. Since it has been recommended that babies sleep on their backs, cases of sudden infant death have decreased, but on the other hand, the risks of plagiocephaly have increased due to the posture.

We also recommend that you read this page about the causes of cranial deformities in more detail.

Can plagiocephaly be prevented?

The answer is yes. There are factors to reduce plagiocephaly and we explain them below.

When your child is sleeping, it is recommended that they continue to sleep on their back, even with plagiocephaly. However, it is also a good idea to place them on their side at times and alternate between left and right. In this way, the head will gradually adapt.

The longer the baby is out of the pram or hammock, while awake, the better. This way you will control every movement of the baby and avoid bad postures.

If your baby suffers from torticollis, take him/her to a physiotherapist as soon as possible, so that your baby does not always lie on the same side.

Read more about the prevention of plagiocephaly and other cranial deformities.

We hope you have understood the causes of Plagiocephaly, if you want to know more we invite you to read the article on the consequences of Plagiocephaly. 

What is the plagiocephaly helmet?

If your baby’s Plagiocephaly is very pronounced, you should ideally use a brace to fix the flat spot. Therapy varies depending on the severity of your baby’s flat spot. It can be worn for several months depending on the doctor’s recommendations. This helmet is unique and exclusive to each baby as it is custom-made. Positive results can be obtained from the helmet up to one year of age.

At the first visit, you will learn about the severity of your baby’s plagiocephaly and learn the recommended treatment plan. As your baby’s head grows, the helmet will need to be adjusted. Your baby should wear the helmet for the maximum number of hours recommended by the doctor. Remember that you will get faster results if you follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter.

With the use of the DOC Band® dynamic orthopaedic helmet, the treatment of plagiocephaly is easy, safe and comfortable for your child.

The DOC Band® orthopaedic helmet has enabled the recovery of more than 300,000 babies worldwide. See the results.

Plagiocephaly treatment

Up to 4 months, repositioning (sleeping on the side) can help treat cranial deformities.

From 4 months onwards, the use of a DOC Band® orthopaedic helmet is the most effective solution.

If your baby is between 4 and 18 months old, the best treatment for plagiocephaly is a dynamic head band (cranial orthosis).

The treatment consists of using a custom-made orthopaedic helmet to take advantage of the growth of the head to correct the deformity.

  • The helmet provides containment of prominent areas
  • so that the head grows on the parts of the head that are not restrained and free of restraint.
tratamiento plagiocefalia

The treatment requires a series of regular visits to the specialist, who will make modifications to the helmet, depending on the growth of the skull.

This treatment is possible thanks to the fact that the fontanelles of the skull are more or less open during the first 2 years of life, enough to be able to reshape the lost shape.  

The treatment lasts on average 4 months. It is advisable to treat plagiocephaly as early as possible.

With more than 35 years of experience, Doctor Pinyot’s medical team has treated more than 4,000 cases of cranial malformations, do not hesitate to contact our centres.

Find out more about treatment for plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome). 

If you are uncertain about your baby’s plagiocephaly, here you can find a guide to help you evaluate if your baby has plagiocephaly, or other cranial malformation.

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