The following may be causes of an improper development of the head shape among infants:
- Misalignment of the body
- Delivery at birth
Misshapen heads have become markedly more common, since the introduction of the Back To Sleep Program designed to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There has been a 40% decrease in SIDS since mothers have been taught to put their babies down to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs. Unfortunately, however, prolonged lying on the back is one of the causes of children developing a misshapen head.
Torticollis is a condition in which spasms in the neck prevent the baby from turning his head equally in both directions. It may cause a child to favor looking either to the left or to the right. Torticollis should be corrected as soon as possible or the face and head of a child may not develop symmetrically. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a trained practitioner as early as possible for early assessment and prompt treatment.
There are a variety of causes misalignment of the body in infants. Common causes are relatively large babies born from a small maternal pelvis, or multiple infants (twins) leading to crowding in the womb. In the case of twins, one twin may be more compressed than the other in the womb. Sometimes a baby’s head may become stuck in its mother’s pelvis or under her ribs, restricting the infant’s movement. In one case that I assessed it was possible to see where the maternal ribs had pressed into the top of the baby’s head. When a baby’s pelvis is misaligned, the position of the head and neck will also be affected.
Given the softness of an infant’s bones, difficult or assisted deliveries may alter the alignment of a baby’s head and facial bones, particularly when instruments such as ventouse or forceps are used. Forceps can leave an impression on the bones of the head, and ventouse can cause elongation of the head. Sometimes misalignment will correct itself although this depends on the amount of force that had to be used in delivering the baby safely.