Flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly)

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Learn about flat head syndrome and how it is treated.

Key points

  • Flat head syndrome describes an atypical head shape that develops during a baby’s first year of life. The medical terms ‘positional plagiocephaly’ and ‘brachycephaly’ describe the location of the flatness.
  • It can occur when an infant spends prolonged periods of time on their back with their head in one position or prefers to turn their head in one direction.
  • Positional plagiocephaly is sometimes associated with another condition called torticollis, which is when the muscle on one side of the neck is shorter or tighter than on the other side.
  • Putting your baby to play on their tummy several times a day can help prevent flat head syndrome.
  • If your baby has flat head syndrome, your doctor may recommend using a technique called counter-positioning to help correct the problem. In cases of significant flattening, you may be referred to a clinic that offers corrective helmet therapy.
Last updated: October 10th 2022