Treatments exist for infant flat head syndrome
Posted November 29, 2011
The number of cases of sudden infant death syndrome has gone down since 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended that infants sleep on their backs to reduce sudden infant death syndrome. But the incidence of flat head syndrome has gone up.
Four-month old Vincent Antenucci has to wear a helmet to try to reshape his flat head.
“I noticed the flattening at the 10-week visit and I was really concerned,” his mother, Jamie Antenucci, said.
The same group has recently released guidelines to help prevent flat head syndrome. They say moving the child into different positions or physical therapy on the neck muscles can correct most cases.
“These deformities do happen. Most of the time they are benign and will go away,” said Dr. Andrew Hertz, medical director of the University Hospitals Rainbow Care Network. The Cleveland-based group provides care to children.
The guidelines say parents should keep babies off of their backs as much as possible during the day. They should increase tummy time when they play, limit their time in car seats, swings or bouncy seats, and turn the child's head each night from left to right in the crib.
Doctors say if the child’s head shows no improvement in six months, parents should see a specialist. Some experts say in more severe cases, acting sooner is best.
“If we know that this child is going to need the helmet anyway because the asymmetry is so great, I recommend not waiting because the younger the baby is, the softer the bones are and the faster the bones grow,” said Rochelle Silberman, who designs orthopedic appliances for children through her company, Kidi Splints.
The Antenuccis tried everything but decided a helmet was the best option for their baby.
“It wasn’t going to get better on its own,” Jamie Antenucci said.
Vincent will have to wear the helmet for about three months. After a few weeks, his parents said they could already see a difference.
The American Academy of Pediatricians report says the helmets are not dangerous, but researchers say there's no evidence they work any better than changing positions.