Plagiocephaly (Flat Head)

Plagiocephaly (Flat Head)

Has your baby developed a flat head? This is known as plagiocephaly. Apart from the effects on your child’s appearance, research suggests that it may also be associated with a range of conditions such as ears, eyes and jaw problems, and developmental delays that may last into school-aged years and potentially beyond1-3.

In one Australian case study, an infant with plagiocephaly experienced full resolution with chiropractic care1. Call Bathurst Chiropractic now for an appointment on (02) 6331 1004 to discuss your options.

Plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is becoming an increasingly common condition amongst Australian infants1-2. It is characterized by a flattening of the skull on one side, giving it an asymmetrical appearance (brachycephaly, a very similar condition, refers to flattening of the skull on both sides)1.

Plagiocephaly often also presents with a hairless patch over the flattened area and forward protrusion of the ear and front of the skull on the same side1.

As a way to combat SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), pediatricians have been recommending infants sleep on their backs since the 1990s (2). The good news is that SIDS rates have declined by 40%; the bad news is that plagiocephaly is on the rise (1-2).

Plagiocephaly is most commonly associated with prolonged back sleeping due to the continued pressure to the back of a still very soft skull1. Delayed tummy time, distortions in the womb and neck torticollis have all also been associated with increased prevalence of the condition1-2.

Although many paediatricians dismiss plagiocephaly as mostly a cosmetic problem, research suggests that it may have a range of long-term complications affecting a baby’s health and development1-3.

Ear problems such as otitis media are more common amongst babies with plagiocephaly due to the impedance of the natural development of the Eustachian tube amongst infants1. Visual field defects, such as hemifield constrictions that decrease the range of vision, are also more common amongst children with plagiocephaly; as are asymmetrical development of the jaw bone (the mandible)3.

There is also a correlation between plagiocephaly and a delay in reaching developmental milestones1-2. These relate to both delays in mental processing and delays in psychomotor skills (relating to crawling, walking and other movements)1. Not only were babies with plagiocephaly more likely to score with “mild” to “severe” delays, none scored with “accelerated” performance, compared to an approximate 15-20% expected average.

Chiropractic treatments for babies are very gentle. They may include very gentle neck movements to restore neck motion and cranial bone moulding to encourage correct skull shape and symmetry2. The chiropractor may also provide exercises to encourage tummy time. This is theorised to help stimulate healthy development2.

At Bathurst Chiropractic, we are experienced in providing neurologically based chiropractic care for all types of families. Everything we do is to help people live better lives. If you are worried about your child’s flat head then call us to discuss your options on (02) 6331 1004.


(1) Hash, J. L. (2014). Deformational plagiocephaly and chiropractic care: A narrative review and case report. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 14(2). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

(2) Free Infographic: Plagiocephaly. (2015, October 30). Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

(3) Stevens, P. (2012, April). Beyond Cosmetic Concerns: Functional Deficits Associated With Deformational Plagiocephaly. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

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