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Fontanelles and Sutures of the Infant Skull - Topic Overview

A baby's skull consists of five thin, curved bony plates that are held together by fibrous material called sutures camera.gif. The skull is soft enough so that it can expand as a baby's brain grows. Usually, the area within a baby's skull doubles in the first 6 months of life and doubles again by age 2. Some sutures begin to close at about this time. After age 2, the skull and brain grow at a much slower rate.

The sutures gradually harden (ossify) to join the skull bones together. The spaces where sutures meet are called fontanelles or "soft spots."

If any of the sutures close too early, it may affect normal skull development, sometimes resulting in a misshapen head or other problems.

Babies born with certain conditions may have irregular fontanelles and sutures. For example, a baby born with congenital hydrocephalus may have wider sutures than normal, and the tissue covering the fontanelles may bulge.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 11, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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