“When she was born, I noticed pretty much right away that her head was a little misshaped,” she shared.
Is this latest baby accessory a medical fashion fad, or is it needed therapy for newborns? The answer isn’t as simple as you may think.
Babies are born with soft and flexible skulls to allow passage through the birth canal and to accommodate brain growth (skulls don’t truly harden until a child is around 2 years old).
Inside the womb, a baby can suffer from premature issues “that result in increased head length and narrowed width,” explains Dr. Tomer Singer, director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who states this is the most common cause of misshapen heads.
Babies can also experience “twisted skull” - in these cases the other side of the forehead becomes excessively prominent and the chin and nose deviate to the unaffected side. A baby’s head can also become misshapen when passing through the birth canal.
These conditions, clinically known as plagiocephaly, can certainly lead to an unsightly appearance for a baby. A cranial helmet is a valid device in reshaping the head as a baby grows. Still, they are “mainly used for cosmetic reasons.”
And there can be side effects. Since the baby usually “will wear the helmet 22-23 hours each day, main side effects reported by parents are rash, discomfort, sweating, and skin irritation,” Dr. Singer shares. He adds that babies do “adapt quite easily to the helmets.”
Fixing a misshapen head can stave off potential issues later in life, such as noticeable facial asymmetry, poorly fitting eyeglasses, and safety equipment and jaw misalignment resulting in a crossbite or underbite, according to Cranial Technologies, which produces the helmets.
So while there’s no evidence that using a helmet will improve your baby’s IQ or anything like that, it is an effective tool in making sure your baby’s head is proportioned the way nature intended it to be.
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