Thursday, 11 January 2007

Jessica's helmet

After spending so much time lying on her back in hospital, Jessica developed a flat head - a syndrome called Plagiocephaly.

We didn't think there was anything we could do about it until we did a bit of research on the internet. We found a company called Starband who make specially designed helmets which help to reshape the babies heads. Of course it costs quite a lot of money for this private treatment so we had to think hard about whether to go ahead with it. But as you can see by the 'after' pics we're very glad we did....

Jessica had to wear this custom-made helmet for 23 hours a day, everyday for 3 and a half months, but it really didn't bother her at all.

Here's some detailed info on Plagiocephaly....

Positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, is the term for an abnormal shaped head caused by external pressures. Most often this is seen as a flattening at one side of the back of a baby’s head, giving an asymmetrical shape when seen from above, or it is where the width and length of the head are noticeably out of proportion – either abnormally wide, or abnormally long.While many babies are born with an abnormal head shape, which comes as a result of the birth, most newborn heads will revert to a normal shape by the time the baby is six weeks old. If an abnormal shape persists or is not noticed until after six weeks, it may be that the baby has positional plagiocephaly.

How is it caused?

There are a number of causes:
in utero constraint – this is where the womb is constricted somehow during pregnancy. This can happen when there is more than one baby, when the mother has a small uterus or pelvis, when there is too much or too little amniotic fluid, and when a breech baby’s head is wedged underneath the mother’s ribs
prematurity – the skulls of premature babies can be very soft and malleable, making the head more susceptible to moulding due to external pressures
torticollis – this is a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the head to tilt and/or turn to one side. It is usually present from birth (congenital muscular torticollis) and may be obvious or subtle. Torticollis can be caused by up to 80 different pathologies. Most are benign and muscular torticollis is one of these. Others are potentially life threatening if the bones in the neck are damaged or not forming properly. It is important to have suspected torticollis diagnosed properly and to have it treated by a specialist physiotherapist.
back sleeping and continual pressure on the back of the head - since the advent of the “Back to sleep” campaign (which began in November 1991), where parents are advised to place their babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS/cot death), there has been a rise in positional plagiocephaly. Because of the fear that many parents have of cot death, babies these days spend an extended amount of time on their backs – in car seats, Moses baskets, pushchairs, bouncy seats and the like. Babies’ skulls are soft in the first few months of life, and continual pressure on one area of the head like this can cause it to flatten. Torticollis and/or prematurity can worsen the flattening.

What are the characteristics of positional plagiocephaly?

Positional plagiocephaly is the umbrella term for three types of positional head deformity – plagiocephaly, brachycephaly and dolichocephaly:

With plagiocephaly, the side that is flattened will often be accompanied by a prominent forehead, which when viewed from above will give the head a parallelogram shape instead of a normal symmetric oval shape. It is also common for the baby to have misaligned ears - the ear on the affected side may be pulled forward and down and be larger than the unaffected ear. There is also sometimes asymmetry of the face, with the affected side having a fuller cheek and a more prominent appearance. Facial asymmetry can also include a jawbone that is tilted, and an eye that appears displaced and mismatched in size. Facial asymmetry is when one side of the face does not match up with the other side. Essentially, the face appears lopsided, or simply does not look right.

Brachycephaly is diagnosed when the entire back of the head is flat and the head has the appearance of being wide and short (from front to back). There is sometimes bossing of the forehead. Brachycephaly is most often seen when a child sleeps entirely on the back of his head.

Dolichocephaly is characterised by a long and narrow head shape. It can result from extended time spent lying on the side of the head, such as premature babies in neo-natal units do. It can also be caused when the baby is in a breech position during the pregnancy and the head becomes wedged underneath the mother’s ribs (really called bathrocephaly, but this term is little-known). In the US, these conditions are both referred to as scaphocephaly, but technically, this is where the baby has the same shaped head, but where it has been caused by craniosynostosis, where the saggital suture has fused prematurely.

1 comment:

Misty Bagley said...

Where you glad that you did the helment? We are trying to make that decision right now. The Dr. says my daughters is borderline, and might get better on its own, but I don't know if I want to take that chance. Would love to hear your thoughts!