Plagiocephaly is when the skull shape becomes asymmetrical being flat on one side, both sides, or takes on an odd shape.
It can result from premature closure of a cranial suture, abnormalities in brain shape or be benign deformational plagiocephaly from prenatal or postnatal external constraint.
A thorough assessment is required to determine the cause of the plagiocephaly as referral may be necessary for surgery or further investigation.
The incidence of posterior deformational plagiocephaly has been steadily increasing since 1992. (Biggs) The cause of this has not been identified but is thought to be related to the current recommendation of sleeping babies on their back. This strategy has been very successful in reducing the incidence of SIDS. Uneven pressure on the growing infant’s skull can occur inutero, during the birth process or postnatally.
Babies with deformational plagiocephaly will often be observed to only turn their head one way, have preference to feed off only the one breast, not like tummy time and always sleep on the same side of their head. You may be led to believe that plagiocephaly is of no concern apart from the aesthetic appearance; however, this is inaccurate. Studies by Miller and Clarren and Speltz et al found that infants with benign deformational plagiocephaly have a high-risk for developmental difficulties, particularly motor delays.
There have been a number of case studies reported in the literature that show chiropractic care has a positive outcome on resolving plagiocephalic deformation. A retrospective study by Chiropractor Dr Neil Davies studied 25 children who had non-stenotic deformational plagiocephaly found all cases achieved full resolution while the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic performed a cohort study that looked at the effect chiropractic care had on 64 patients with benign deformational plagiocephaly. This study conclusion found a significant reduction in head deformity.
Following a thorough examination chiropractic care will involve adjustments to any area of the spine, extremities or cranial bones that are subluxated (fixated), home based exercises, posture and sleep recommendations. While continual measurement and monitoring of the plagiocephalic deformation will be performed and recorded.
Davies, N. (2002). Chiropractic management of deformational plagiocephaly in infants. An alternative to device-dependant therapy. Chiropr. J Aust. 32(2):52-55
Douglas, N. Browning, M, and Miller, J. Chiropractic care for the cervical spine as a treatment for plagiocephaly: a prospective cohort study. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. www.jccponline.com Accessed 8/6/2017
Humphris, T, Askin, A, Glucina-Russell, T. (2014). Resolution of non-synostotic plagiocephaly following chiropractic care: a case report. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics . 14 (3)1176-1178
Miller, R and Clarren, S. (2000). Long-Term Developmental Outcomes in Patients with Deformational Plagiocephaly. Pediatrics. 105(2)
Rubin, D and Istok, M. (2013). Resolution of Infantile Colic, Torticollis, Plagiocephaly & Feeding Difficulties Following Subluxation Based Chiropractic: A Case Report. J of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health. 2: 24 – 27
Speltz, M, Collet, B. Stott-Miler, M. Starr, J. Heike, C. Wolfram-Aduan, A. King, D. and Cunningham, M.(2010). Case-Control Study of Neurodevelopment in Deformational Plagiocephaly. Pediatrics. 125(3)
Tutt, G and Mesidor, R. (2014). Resolutionof Torticollis, Plagiocephaly & Breastfeeding Difficulties in an Infant Following Subluxation Based Chiropractic Care. J of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health. 2: 14 – 20