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What to Know About Dolichocephaly

It’s widespread for infants’ heads to look barely misshapen after delivery and even within the first few weeks that comply with. It’s because infants’ heads are supposed to be moldable to accommodate the numerous adjustments that occur throughout gestation, delivery, and the primary 12 months of life. Normally, this misshapen look is minimal and resolves by itself.

However what occurs in case your child’s head is extra severely misshapen? Is that this an issue? In case your child’s cranium seems to be elongated, they could be identified with a situation referred to as dolichocephaly (often known as scaphocephaly). If that’s the case for you, you’ll have a number of questions on this situation, what it means to your child, and what remedy choices can be found.

What Is Dolichocephaly? 

Dolichocephaly refers to an elongation of an toddler’s head prompted most frequently by positioning after delivery. It’s generally, although not completely, a results of an prolonged keep in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Child’s heads are product of a number of tender plates that haven’t absolutely fused collectively at delivery—this flexibility helps infants go extra simply via the delivery canal, and makes the fast mind progress that occurs throughout your child’s first 12 months potential.

In accordance with the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP), misshapen heads and cranium deformities happen about 20% of the time throughout childbirth or because of a child’s place within the womb. However more often than not, these happen after delivery—inside the first 4 to 12 weeks, when infants spend a number of time mendacity flat and are much less cellular.


Dolichocephaly has two main causes: craniosynostosis or positioning.


Infants’ cranium bones comprise areas in between them which can be stuffed with a versatile substance referred to as sutures. As a result of sutures are fluid, they permit the mind to develop and develop.

Craniosynostosis is a delivery defect through which the bones of the child’s cranium fuse collectively prematurely earlier than the mind has absolutely developed. In infants with craniosynostosis, the mind stops rising within the a part of the cranium that has closed too shortly, whereas different components of the mind proceed rising. When this happens, the cranium varieties an irregular form.

Whereas there are a number of sorts of craniosynostosis, sagittal synostosis is mostly linked to dolichocephaly. Sagittal synostosis is the untimely closing of the sagittal suture, which runs from the highest of the child’s head close to the tender spot, all the way in which to the again of the pinnacle. The sagittal suture often begins closing later in life, at round 21–30 years of age.

Extended Facet or Inclined Positioning

Generally casually known as “NICUcephaly,” some circumstances of dolichocephaly have an effect on untimely infants who’ve spent a while within the NICU. The U.S. Nationwide Library of Drugs explains that almost all circumstances of dolichocephaly happen in preterm infants who’re born at lower than 32 weeks gestation, and due to the side-lying or susceptible (i.e., on their abdomen) positions these infants are generally positioned in whereas they’re within the NICU.

These positions are used to guard untimely infants’ well being—together with reducing their threat of reflux, apnea, and bradycardia—however sadly may end up in dolichocephaly. In some circumstances, the dolichocephaly resolves by the point the child goes house, however in different circumstances, it stays, and infants are discharged from the hospital with dolichocephaly.

Threat Components

Dolichocephaly can develop in an in any other case regular growing cranium when a child spends an excessive amount of time in sure positions. Whereas some analysis suggests genetic components are linked to craniosynostosis-related dolichocephaly particularly, the true etiology of the situation just isn’t but absolutely understood.


In accordance with the AAP, most circumstances of misshapen toddler heads or cranium deformities are usually not severe and don’t have an effect on the well being or well-being of an toddler. “Positional cranium deformities don’t have an effect on mind progress or mental growth,” writes the AAP. “They’re purely beauty, and the bulk don’t require surgical procedure.”

Nonetheless, some extreme circumstances of dolichocephaly could be extra severe and should have an effect on your child’s well being and growth. Because the U.S. Nationwide Library of Drugs explains, “The long-term penalties of dolichocephaly are usually not absolutely recognized, but it surely has been correlated with delayed reaching expertise, tightness within the spinal extensors and scapular retractors, and growth of motor asymmetries.”

A extra important deformity may also impression an individual’s shallowness and confidence as they develop into maturity. Surgical procedure in infancy can enhance head form and forestall psychological points that may stem from a extreme beauty concern.

If you’re involved that your child could have a extreme case of dolichocephaly that will end in any developmental, well being, or psychological points, it is best to converse to your pediatrician. They are going to let you understand if any exams—akin to a CAT scan—are wanted to raised perceive the way in which dolichocephaly could also be affecting your child, and if any particular interventions could also be required.


Some gentle circumstances of dolichocephaly and different cases of misshapen skulls won’t require remedy, as they’ll usually simply resolve as your child grows. In circumstances of reasonable or extreme cranium deformity, therapies and different interventions could also be essential. That is one thing your physician will talk about with you, as the necessity for these interventions is case-by-case.

In accordance with the AAP, there are three principal interventions for misshapen skulls and positions cranium deformities: bodily remedy, helmet remedy, and surgical procedure.

Bodily Remedy

A pediatric bodily therapist could be useful as you navigate your journey with dolichocephaly. They will search for any developmental delays your child could also be experiencing and supply stretching and positioning workouts you are able to do at house together with your child.

Helmet Remedy

Some infants with misshapen heads could profit from a molding helmet. That is typically really helpful when a child’s head doesn’t attain a wholesome form by the point they’re 5 to six months outdated. A specialist should match molding helmets.

Surgical procedure

In additional severe circumstances, surgical procedure will probably be required. That is true for extra extreme circumstances of sagittal craniosynostosis. Throughout surgical procedure, the affected suture is eliminated to right the child’s head form. Ideally, the surgical procedure takes place within the early months of life for optimum outcomes.

At-House Therapies

Along with remedies from specialists, there are practices you possibly can undertake at house to assist your child’s cranium attain an optimum form.

Listed below are some the AAP recommends you strive at house:

  • Range your child’s place and don’t depart them in a single place for too lengthy, particularly ones that put stress on their head. For instance, don’t depart your child too lengthy of their automobile seat, a bouncy chair, or child swing.
  • Give your child alternatives to maneuver. Tummy time is nice for this, and infants with cranium deformities might have extra tummy time than others. Tummy time permits your child to maneuver their neck, head, again, shoulders, hips, and arms in pure and helpful methods. In case your child resists, you can begin small and work your manner as much as longer durations of tummy time.
  • Change arms when feeding your child to assist your child’s head develop into the right form.
  • Change which a part of the crib you lay your child down in. When you ought to at all times lay infants to sleep on their backs, you possibly can change the place you lay them within the crib for sleep.

A Phrase From Verywell

Caring for a child with any type of abnormality could be demanding. You will have fears in regards to the future, and you could not know learn how to deal with what is going on within the right here and now. Do not forget that any issues you’ll have are legitimate. Don’t be afraid to contact your pediatrician or different healthcare supplier with questions.

It can be useful to get in contact with different mother and father who’ve been via related experiences via an internet or in-person help group. Most of all, know that you’re not alone, and also you will get via this. 

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