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Brachycephaly Head Shape

Brachycephaly, derived from the Greek, means short head, the shape of the skull is shorter than average. A brachycephalic skull is flat in the rear. The crown of the head towards the back is often high, the baby’s face may be wide and the ears can also protrude.

Sometimes brachycephaly is a congenital condition, which means it exists at or before birth. According to the National Institute of Health (part of the USA’s Department of Health), brachycephaly occurs when the front bone and side bones join together before the skull is fully developed.

Brachycephaly that is not the result of a congenital condition is frequently position-related. This is by far the most common type of brachycephaly. Often acquired brachycephaly can be seen in children who have also been diagnosed with plagiocephaly. The risks for developing the acquired form of brachycephaly include all of the observed risk factors for plagiocephaly, as well as carrying low in the pelvis during pregnancy, very large birth size and breech birth.


There are two types of brachycephaly:

  • Asymmetrical deformational bracyhcephaly (ADB)*
  • Symmetrical deformational brachycephaly (SDB)

*ADB is also referred to as plagiocephaly with brachycephaly, or brachycephaly with plagiocephaly.

Brachycephaly Head Shape

These are the physical symptoms for you to watch out for in your baby:

  • Bilateral occipital flattening
  • Increased width to length ration
  • Increased posterior head height
  • Bilateral frontal bulging

There may also be:-

  • Bilateral bulging over the ears
  • Cupping of ears
  • Some degree of asymmetry (Plagiocephalic features)


Brachycephaly Treatment

If your baby has a Brachycephaly head shape do not worry, the condition can be treated very successfully with the LOCband, a cranial orthosis or cranial helmet as it is often called.

A retrospective study of 4,205 infants treated with a cranial orthosis from 2013-2017, was published online in 2018 in Global Pediatric Health. The results were conclusive, there was an 81.4% improvement towards normal in the cephalic index of the infants treated. The complete report can be read here


If you are concerned that your baby has a Brachycephaly head shape we can provide you with our clinical opinion of your baby's head shape based on your photographs. Just fill in our plagiocephaly / flat head diagnosis form

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