Syndrome de la tête plate chez les bébés : Comment le détecter [et surtout l’éviter]

Infants and babies with flat head syndrome, also called plagiocephaly, are on the rise. If you want to learn more about the causes and consequences of this problem (and why it is more common than before), the ways to prevent it and the treatments available, you are in the right place!

Did you know that a newborn baby can spend more than 23 hours a day lying on their back? The bones of his skull being flexible and malleable, it happens that a prolonged position causes a flattening of a portion of the head. This phenomenon, called positional plagiocephaly, is even more common since the establishment of the Back to Sleep campaign , which drastically reduced the number of cases of sudden infant death, but which increased the number of cases of plagiocephaly in infants from 22% in 2004 to 46% in 2013.

What Causes Flat Head?

This visible deformation of the cranium is caused by sustained external forces. There are many factors that cause this type of prolonged force on the head.

  • Intrauterine constraint : While the baby is still in its mother’s womb, it may experience cranial pressure from lack of space or poor positioning. Heavier weight babies and prolonged gestations (over 40 weeks) may help.
  • Congenital torticollis : Some babies are born with a significant contracture of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, located in front of the neck. In doing so, the infant is constrained in its cervical movements. His head is kept in the same position, a way for him to avoid the pain.

  • The use of forceps or a suction cup during childbirth : This medical procedure increases the stress on the cervical spine and cranial bones.
  • A premature, difficult delivery or stagnation of the baby in the vaginal canal during delivery.
  • Vertebral subluxation : This is a mechanical problem involving a spinal joint. It can be a misalignment of the vertebra or a restriction in its joint movement. Vertebral subluxation involves many anatomical structures including muscles and ligaments. It interferes with the functioning of the nervous system (via the spinal cord and spinal nerves) and can have numerous consequences on overall health.
  • Prolonged position on the back : Whether in bed, in the stroller, in the car seat, on the floor or in a recliner (swing, vibrating chair, etc.), the infant is found most of the time. time on the back.

What are the consequences of a flat head syndrome?

For a long time, pediatric experts believed that the consequences of plagiocephaly were only aesthetic. But researchers now suspect that improper skull reshaping could have negative effects that go way beyond what is apparent.

  • Jaw disorders
  • Visual disturbances
  • Hearing problems
  • Postural disorders (possible link with scoliosis)
  • Mental disorders
  • Psychomotor disorders
  • Motor and psychological development disorders
  • Permanent aesthetic deformities

How to detect present or potential flat head syndrome?

Certain signs can put the chip in the ear of the parents.

  • Flattening visible on one side of the head (right, left or back)
  • Frontal bulge
  • The head takes on a parallelogram shape when viewed from above
  • One ear ahead of the other
  • Eyes or ears are not at the same height
  • Mouth has asymmetry or misalignment
  • An area of ​​baldness (without hair) on one side or behind the head
  • Baby’s head always turned to the same side
  • Presence of a muscle cord on the front of the neck
  • Baby has difficulty drinking from a specific breast while breastfeeding
  • Baby does not take the bottle well on one side (left or right arm)
  • At 3-4 months, baby cannot push on forearms when on tummy

Informed parents, considerate parents

Knowing that nearly half of infants have plagiocephaly, parents will want to intervene from birth to prevent this problem in their baby.

On a daily basis, parents can reduce the risk of cranial deformity or promote symmetrical remodeling of the skull after birth.

  • Put the baby on his stomach several times a day, gradually increasing the duration. Baby may not particularly like this position at first. Stick to it and repeat the experience more often. Little tip: as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, place the baby on mom’s tummy or chest. In the first days of life, keep this daily ritual by talking to him gently. You will encourage him to raise his head, which will strengthen his cervical musculature. As the baby grows older, he will be able to stand up on his forearms and will develop a liking for this position. Make sure you are close to him on the ground and entertain him with toys or contrasting or colorful objects.
  • Install it on the side under surveillance. Never leave your baby alone in his bed in any position other than on his back. But you can take advantage of his waking periods to lay him on his side. Use a pillow or roller if necessary.
  • Reduce equipment usage. Instead of the stroller, why not do a porterage? In addition to strengthening the bond of attachment with your baby, you also improve his proprioceptive system and his balance. Make sure to carry ergonomic carry (knees higher than buttocks, not suspended by the crotch, facing you and at kiss height). Do not leave your baby in his car seat (shell) if it is not necessary.

  • Change positions during breastfeeding (right, left, Madonna, football …)
  • Change arms when bottle-feeding.
  • Alternate directions when placing baby in bed so that he or she turns his head both ways to look at you.
  • Change direction when changing diapers. Keep your dominant hand for bowel movements.
  • Use a small heart-shaped head pillow to support baby’s head when on his back.

What to do if you suspect flathead syndrome

Your chiropractor is trained to detect problems with plagiocephaly and mobility disorders of the cervical spine. The earlier the detection of flathead syndrome, the better the chances of resolving the problem successfully . Around the age of 4 months, the malleability of the cranial bones begins to decrease. It is therefore important to take advantage of this window (0-4 months) to intervene. For a long time, experts believed that plagiocephaly resolved itself. We now know that prompt intervention improves the prognosis and may prevent you from needing a cranial orthosis.

As a parent, you can stop or slow down the progression of the problem by applying the prevention actions mentioned above (section Informed parents, considerate parents).

See a chiropractor as soon as possible. Thanks to examinations and different joint and muscle techniques, the chiropractor will be able to:

  • to detect and correct the restrictions at the origin of plagiocephaly,
  • to restore cervical movement,
  • improve the flexibility of the spine,
  • to relax the cervical musculature.

The chiropractor uses gentle, safe, effective and baby-friendly methods. They can also offer you advice on the prevention and management of flat head syndrome on a daily basis.