Mommy's Time Out Magazine September 2017 | Page 14

Plagiocephaly: What Is It and How Can I Prevent It?

By: Erin Taylor, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Plagiocephaly is a fancy word for flat head syndrome which has become somewhat common in today’s infants. Since the initiation of the Back to Sleep program in 1992, SIDS has decreased more than 50%, from 1.2/1000 babies prior to 1992 to 0.54/1000 babies by 2005. During this time we have also seen a significant increase in positional plagiocephaly.

Why? Well, prior to 1992, babies often slept on their tummies, woke up and played on their tummies, incorporating plenty of tummy time naturally. Today’s parents, however, must be intentional about providing that same tummy time. Without adequate focus on teaching parents how to incorporate safe tummy time, we are now seeing almost 50% of normal babies with plagiocephaly at 7-12 weeks. Depending on the severity, many will say the flat spot is of little concern. But as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, my concern is what that flat spot means, and typically, it means NOT ENOUGH happy TUMMY TIME. Tummy time is the foundation for ALL other developmental skills. Not just gross motor skills like rolling, crawling, and walking, but fine motor skills, visual skills and cognitive skills too. Even with slight flattening of the head, babies can quickly develop tight muscles in the neck and throughout the body, making normal movement harder. Intervening early is the key to preventing plagiocephaly and the developmental delays associated with it.