Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Nearly Half of Infants Have Flat Spot on Head: Study

    But researcher stresses importance of still having babies sleep on their back to prevent SIDS

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Amy Norton

    HealthDay Reporter

    MONDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Putting babies on their backs to sleep has sharply cut the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but it has also left nearly half of infants with a flattened heads, a new Canadian study estimates.

    Researchers found that 47 percent of 440 2-month-olds having routine check-ups had what doctors call positional plagiocephaly -- where the back or one side of the head has a flat spot. It develops when infants spend a lot of time with the head resting in the same position against a flat surface.

    Flat spots are a cosmetic issue -- not a medical problem -- experts stressed, and parents should keep putting their infants on their backs to sleep.

    "It still is very important to put infants to sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS," said study author Aliyah Mawji, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

    But parents can do things to prevent or alleviate the flat spot, she said -- like making sure infants have "tummy time" when they are awake and under someone's watchful eye.

    The study, published online July 8 and in the August issue of Pediatrics, gives a better estimate of the incidence of flat head than past research has, according to Mawji.

    That's because the babies were assessed for flat spots during routine check-ups at four community health centers across Calgary. Past studies included babies at just a single center, Mawji said, and their estimates of the rate of flat head ranged hugely -- from 3 percent to 61 percent.

    Still, Mawji said it's not clear whether the rate in her study would reflect what's going on everywhere. The United States, for example, is generally more diverse than Calgary, so the rate could be different there -- and could vary across different parts of the nation.

    Young infants are susceptible to flat spots because the bones of the skull are not fused together -- so that the head can get through the birth canal and the skull can accommodate a rapidly growing brain later.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
     
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
     

    mother holding baby at night
    ARTICLE
    mother with sick child
    QUIZ
     
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    SLIDESHOW
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    TOOL
     
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Slideshow
    Mother with her baby boy
    Article
     
    baby in crib
    Slideshow
    baby gear slideshow
    Slideshow