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Transcript: Essential Info about your Baby’s Head Shape (Pedcast)
-Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, your reliable source of information for parents about a wide range of pediatric parenting and health topics ranging from the bassinet to the boardroom.
-Thank you for joining me today.
– I am your host and the founder of DocSmo.com…Dr Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician with 30 years of private practice under my belt.
-These “pedcasts” are intended to bring parents useful practical information about important pediatric topics. A supplement to your child’s regular office visits with their health-care provider.
-This is the kind of discussion your pediatrician would like to have with you if they had unlimited time during your child’s health supervision visits.
-I want to stress that by making this podcast, I am not intending to give specific medical advice for your child, rather general information on the topic of the day which today is “What parents need to know about head shape in babies.”
-Parents often worry about their baby’s head shape…especially in the first year of life.
-First, we have all the consequence of the birth process… and what a process it is.
-Babies usually come head first into the birth canal, first hitting the hard bones of Mom’s pelvis, then squeezing through Mom’s cervix and vagina.
-Bruising and molding of the skull bones are almost inevitable as a consequence of these processes.
-Many parents are startled and frightened by the molding and bruising their infant is born with but rarely are these a serious concern.
-With the rapid brain and skull growth that occur in the first few months of life, the distorted shape of a newborn’s skull rapidly disappears…unless they spend so much time on their backs in monotonous positions that flattening starts to occur in the back of their little heads.
– The medical term for this one sided flattening is plagiocephaly and pediatricians definitely started seeing more of this deformity after the back to sleep campaign started in the US…that’s the recommendation to always have babies sleep on their backs on a safe surface whenever they are unattended.
-Not only can plagiocephaly be a cosmetic problem, but some feel that with enough asymmetry of the skull can come along vision problems since, with enough forward shift one side of the face, one eye may be in a different plane than the other. A similar process is thought to possibly cause jaw problems since the mandible may not fit properly on the skull if the upper face is not symmetric.
-Everyone agrees that flattening of one side of the skull is something that we want to avoid.
-It can persist into adult life if it is severe.
-Here is what you can do to avoid problems with your baby’s head
-Start doing tummy time, as soon as your little bundle of joy comes home from the hospital.
-Try and turn your infant’s head to alternating sides when you lay them down for sleep as soon as you get home from the hospital.
-Try to get Tummy time, supervised of course, for 30-60 minutes a day on a firm, safe sleep surface…for more on that, I remind you to check out my pod cast on “Safe sleep”
-If your child always wants to lay on the same side of their head, they probably are doing so because of a cramped womb position. Have your pediatrician check their neck for tightening or stiffness. Should this be present, have them show you some exercises to help alleviate this tightening or have them send you to a physical therapist for this purpose.
-Here are some things you should not do in an attempt to help your infant’s head shape are:
– Let your infant sit in a car seat or any seat for that matter for long periods of time in the same position.
-You should not buy devices to hold your baby in a certain position to lower pressure on his or her head. These devices are well intentioned and may work, but their safety is always a concern. Experts recommend that they not be used.
-When using tummy time, never leave your child unattended even for a second.
-It has been my experience that the flattening can be avoided if parents are proactive with Tummy time and be careful not to miss neck stiffness.
-Should the flattening occur despite your efforts, referral to an specialist in head orthotics should be made by 6 months of age. They will help you decide if your infant needs a skull-molding helmet to reshape their head.
-These helmets are expensive and don’t always work especially if not put on by 6 months so remember the DocSmo pearl…. Prevention trumps treatment almost every time.
– I hope the new parents in my audience today found this pedcast useful.
– The head shaping helmets I referenced in the pedcast cost between $1500-$4000 in my community and are not always covered by insurance so by listening to DocSmo today, potentially I may have saved your family a significant chunk of change… all in a days work.
-If you found this and other pedcasts useful, go ahead and take the plunge. Subscribe on itunes, like DocSmo on face book or follow us on twitter.
-Currently, all of my content is available for free at my website, www.DocSmo.com.
-And don’t forget to check out my Smo Notes posted at my website where you can find reliable reference material with a simple click of the mouse.
-As always, this is your host, Dr Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom on the east side of the house, protecting you from the dread of having a child with a misshapen head.
Until next time.
Clinical Report: Prevention and Management of Positional Skull Deformities in infants, Pediatrics Volume 128, Number 6, December 2011
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