Cranial malformations in babies


Cranial malformations in babies, such as plagiocephaly, brachycephaly or scaphocephaly, are a deformation of the growing skull caused by mechanical pressure of some of its parts before, during or after childbirth.

Cranial deformities affect around 12% of babies. They usually occur in babies who have grown up in a restrictive uterine environment (multiple pregnancy, small pelvis, uterine fibroids,…), premature babies, babies who spend many hours in the same position (always sleep on their back). Children suffering from CMD (congenital muscular torticollis), who, due to a muscular shortening of the neck, have a tendency to always lean on the same side of the head, favoring the appearance of plagiocephaly.

The bones that form the vault and cranial base of the fetus, baby, and infant less than 3 months old are still poorly ossified and are separated from one another by sutures and fontanels.

If for any reason they receive excessive or continuous pressure, their normal growth is interfered with and deformations can be caused by the flattening of a part of the skull.

Cranial Index: A normal head is oval in shape when viewed from above and has a normal width-to-length ratio of 80%. This ratio allows us to quantify the degree of deformation of the baby’s skull.

Causes of cranial malformations in babies

The causes of cranial deformities can be due to the fact of remaining in the same position for long periods of time , however there are cases in which the baby is already born with this flattening of the skull due to a maternal pelvic narrowing. This occurs when, for example, there are multiple pregnancies.

We have mentioned the two main causes for which there may be a cranial deformity in the baby, however, there are other factors that can influence the risk of suffering from a cranial malformity.

Cranial deformities in newborns

  • muscular torticollis: present at birth, causing the head to tilt in one direction. Normally the baby will keep his head in the same position when lying down. In this case, a possible plagiocephaly (misshapen head) may develop.
  • Premature babies: Premature babies are at higher risk for plagiocephaly, because the skull bones are weaker and more easily deformed than babies born normally. The skull bones usually get stronger during the last 10 weeks of gestation.

Cranial deformities can be treated in different ways:

  • Postural or positional changes
  • Physiotherapy treatment: Exercises adapted to the specific needs of the child. It can include: stretching and pressure stimulating the stiff or weak muscles in the neck. Parents are also taught to use correct movements while nursing or playing with him.
  • Treatment with orthopedic band: Treatment with orthopedic band Doc Band ( plagiocephaly helmet ). From 6 months of age, if the deformation has not been corrected with postural treatments, only the orthopedic cranial band can solve it. It is done using an orthopedic helmet or cranial orthosis.
baby with plagiocephaly
Orthopedic helmet for cranial deformities DOC Band®

If you wish, in the following link you can find information on how to assess yourself if your baby has plagiocephaly , or another cranial deformity.

If you have doubts, the best thing to do is to get to know our team , with more than 35 years of experience, and learn about its diagnosis and prevention .

Cranial deformities in adults

Skull deformities in adults are more difficult to fix. Surgery is usually the only possible solution to treat it. However, you can go to a specialist for a clinical evaluation.

In this post you can find more information about plagiocephaly in adults