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Is It Dangerous For My Baby to Have Flat Head Syndrome?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health cover, explores flat head syndrome in babies.


What Exactly is Flat Head Syndrome?

Did you know that the medical term for flat head syndrome is plagiocephaly? Flat head syndrome occurs when a flat patch forms on the back or the side of a baby’s head.


The issue can result in a baby’s head appearing lopsided. Some say the top view of a baby’s head resembles a parallelogram.


The bones of a baby’s skull do not completely fuse and solidify until several months after birth. Soft, flexible bones help a baby transit through the birth canal.


Soft bones also provide adequate brain development areas. A baby’s head can shift shape. A common cause of the flat head syndrome is sleeping or lying in the same position.

There Are Two Forms of Flat Head Syndrome:


Up to 50% of babies are born with the positional flat head condition.


Craniosynostosis, known as a congenital flat head syndrome, is a rare birth condition. Sutures are fibrous gaps between the bones of the skull. When sutures close too soon in infants, they can lead to a head with an odd shape. Flat head syndrome happens in 1 in every 2 000 to 2 500 births.

Identification of Flat Head Syndrome

It may take several months for flat head syndrome symptoms to manifest. Examine your infant for evidence of flat head syndrome during bath time. Their skull shape is most visible when their hair is wet.

Signs may include:
  • A flattened region on the side or back of the head.
  • A tilted and misshapen skull.
  • Misaligned ears.
  • A patch of baldness on the head.
  • Skull ridges consist of bone.
  • Lack of a soft area on the head (or fontanel)

Why Does Flat Head Syndrome Happen?

Some say that congenital flat head syndrome occurs by chance during foetal development. It can also run in families and is often associated with genetic illnesses.


Reviews state that congenital flat head syndrome is one of more than 180 disorders. There are several potential causes of the positional flat head syndrome:

Putting your baby to sleep in the same position every night:

You should always place your baby to sleep on their back. So, make sure your baby has adequate tummy time when awake.

 Muscular torticollis:

Muscular torticollis is a condition in which the neck muscles of a newborn are stiff or unbalanced. It is more difficult for the infant to twist their neck and move their head when there is less room in the uterus. Limited space in the uterus may cause the flat head syndrome.

Being a twin, triplet, etc.:

Sharing a womb with another baby increases the chances of a squeezed skull. Limited space may cause the flat head syndrome.

Premature birth:

The bones of premature infants are softer than those of term-born infants. They are also more likely to have lengthy hospital admissions. During their time in the hospital, they may lie on their backs most of the time. The positional flat head condition happens more in preterm infants than in term infants.

Tools and instruments used during delivery:

Some delivery tools can cause the flat head syndrome. Applying pressure on a baby’s skull and its pliable bones can damage the bones.

Complications of Flat Head Syndrome

People view positional flat head syndrome as an aesthetic concern and not a medical one. In most situations, it does not affect brain development or growth.


Surgery is often required when sutures in the skull seal too early. Surgical procedures can ease intracranial pressure and allow normal brain development.


“The sooner doctors identify flat head syndrome, the better. Early diagnosis increases the chances of recovery,” says Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health CEO.


“The signs of flat head syndrome become visible to parents between six and eight weeks. Many paediatricians screen infants for skull malformations at each well-child visit.”

Notify a doctor as soon as you see the following:

  • Flat spots
  • A tilted side of the head with mismatched eyes and ears
  • A skull devoid of a soft area
  • Rugged ridges on the head

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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