Babywearing as Prevention for Deformational Plagiocephaly

Since the Back to Sleep campaign in the 1990’s, the incidence of SIDS has decreased 40-50% while plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, has increased exponentially.1 Plagiocephaly can be prevented by holding children, according to the NIH (National Institute of Health).2 Traditional treatment for plagiocephaly has included several months up to a year of wearing a rigid foam helmet costing $1500-3000, for up to 23 hours a day. The studies that showed improvement using this therapy were not controlled, randomized studies. The results of the first randomized study were released on May 1st, 2014 and showed no statistically significant differences in improvement between infants with mild to moderate plagiocephaly who wore helmets, and those who did not. In addition, 77% of the parents in the helmet wearing group complained that helmet therapy hindered cuddling with their infants. 33% reported perceived pain, and 96% reported skin irritation3. Coupled with the finding that children with plagiocephaly are more likely to have developmental problems1 the complaint of less cuddling is even more concerning. About 70% of babies with plagiocephaly do not improve, whether they wear helmets or not. Prevention is the best treatment we have available and babywearing can be that prevention.

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3393045/
  2. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sids/conditioninfo/pages/faqs.aspx
  3. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/824470
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