What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is an abnormal shape head condition that is caused by the constant pressure on one side of it. This condition can be detected immediately after birth and even though the head of your newborn can have a normal and symmetric appearance at birth, this condition can be developed during the first months of life of the newborn. Most of the times, people close to the baby notice the unusual shape of the head and this concern is transmitted to the pediatrician.

Example of Plagiocephaly in infant

Photo by: Decue Wu

Example of Brachycephaly in infant

Photo by: Decue Wu

Example of Scaphocephaly in infant

Photo by: Decue Wu

What causes Plagiocephaly?

Occasionally, a baby is born with this flattening because of a tight intrauterine environment, examples of this are multiple births, small maternal pelvis, or with a breech position. Other factors which may increase the risk of plagiocephaly include the following:

Muscular torticollis

Muscular torticollis is a condition present at birth, where one or more of the neck muscles is extremely tight, causing the head to tilt and/or turn in one direction. Torticollis is often associated with the development of plagiocephaly since babies hold their heads against the mattress, car seats, swings or bouncers in the same position for long periods of time.


Premature babies are at a higher risk for plagiocephaly since the cranial bones become stronger and harder in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. Also, because many premature babies spend extended periods of time in the neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit on a respirator, their heads are maintained in a fixed position, increasing the risk for this condition.

Back sleeping

Babies who sleep on their backs or in car seats without alternating positions for extended periods of time are also at a higher risk for plagiocephaly. Since it is recommended to put babies to sleep on their backs, plagiocephaly cases have increased but the positive thing about this is that the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has decreased. Never, never put your baby to sleep face down to avoid plagiocephaly. You can use different methods like repositioning and other tips to avoid this condition.

Watch this video where positional plagiocephaly is well explained.

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Read our story and inform your pediatrician immediately!