Perhaps the only known variable in parenthood is the unexpected. No matter how hard we prepare ourselves for what parenting entails, we will always be faced with surprises, some pleasant and some less so.
Equipping ourselves to handle the unexpected can help us remain calm, strong and confident in situations where we otherwise may have felt we had failed.
When my daughter was a few months old, I noticed that one side of her head was flatter than the other. A few years earlier, I might not have even recognized the subtle difference. However, a friend’s child wore a helmet to correct a similar problem, so my radar was up.
As a mom, I needed to understand what caused this and, more importantly, how I could fix it. (Don’t we always think we should be able to fix everything for our children? How “Supermom” of us!)
Plagiocephaly — misshapen or flattened head — can occur for many reasons:
_ Congenital muscular torticollis, or a twisted neck present at birth
_ Hydrocephaly, a condition in which fluid surrounds the brain
_ Craniosynotosis, which occurs when skull sutures close too soon
_ Positional plagiocephaly.
Positional plagiocephaly happens when a fetus is too crowded within the womb or, more frequently, when an infant stays too long in one position — on the back, for example. When infants are born, their still-soft skulls are made up of several movable plates. This allows for flexibility so that the head can move through the birth canal.
Sutures, also known as fontanels or “soft spots,” are the spaces between these movable plates that leave room for the brain to grow. If a baby lies in the same position for too long, movement of the plates can leave a flat spot on the head.
The “Back to Sleep” campaign, introduced in 1992, urged parents to place infants in a supine position to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Since the inception of this campaign, cases of plagiocephaly have increased. However, while some might argue that Back to Sleep is to blame for these rising numbers, others believe that the condition is more heavily diagnosed because of increased awareness and recognition.