What is Brachycephaly?

Brachycephaly, derived from the Greek 'short head', means 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 brachycephaly (ADB)*
  • Symmetrical deformational brachycephaly (SDB)

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

If you are concerned about the shape of your baby’s head, help and advice is at hand. You can get immediate and free advice from one of our experienced clinicians here.

 

 

What are the Visual Signs?

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

  • Bilateral occipital flattening
  • Increased width to length ratio
  • 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-Lite or 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. Read the complete report.

If you are concerned that your baby has a Brachycephaly head shape, you can get immediate and free advice from one of our experienced clinicians with our clinical brachycephaly diagnosis form.

FAQs:

This is very much dependent on how fast your baby is growing. The faster the growth, the more frequently your baby will be seen so that the helmet can be adjusted. In general, reviews will happen at two to four-week intervals.

The price of treatment covers:

  • all your baby’s required appointments from start to the end of treatment, no matter how many are required to achieve the improvement in head shape that you are happy with;
  • the cost of manufacturing the LOCband and supply of appropriate cleaning fluid for the band;
  • all reports to your GP/paediatrician/ cranial osteopath/physiotherapist, including a final scan report with objective measurements of change achieve;
  • full telephone support from your clinician during treatment, and, if necessary, extra review appointments at short notice.

Yes - All babies that have completed their course of treatment with us have achieved a measurable improvement in head shape. However, you don’t have to take our word for it.

Recent independent research conducted by a University Hospital in Germany has endorsed the treatment for babies with moderate or severe plagiocephaly.

A larger, retrospective study has just been published that found complete correction was achieved in 94.4% of babies treated with helmet therapy.

The results were conclusive: repositioning achieved acceptable correction in 77.1% of cases, but 15.8% were moved onto helmet therapy because re-positioning was not working. Meanwhile, 94.4% of the infants who started in the helmet-treated group achieved full correction, as did 96.1% of those who were transferred from the repositioning group into the helmet-treated group.

Further information can be found on our Plagiocephaly Research page.

If your baby has a temperature or a fever due to illness you must remove the band. The band can be put back on once the temperature has returned to normal.

The optimum age for treatment is between four and seven months.

This is because the skull is most malleable at this age and improvements to head shape tend to take less time and are more dramatic. That is not to say that helmet therapy should be ruled out if the baby is older than seven months. Routinely, babies up to the age of 16 months can be treated very successfully.

The cut off age is around 18 months when the fontanelles (soft spots on the head) are no longer malleable. As babies grow and develop at different rates, it is always worth checking if you are not sure. There have been cases where a baby’s fontanelles have not fused yet by the age of 18 months, who have achieved successful, but less-marked results with cranial remoulding therapy.

Torticollis is a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle in one side of the neck causes the head to tilt or turn to one side, resulting in the infant resting its head in the same position. In 2013, we analysed the data from all first appointments in our Kingston clinic and found that 20% of the babies examined had some kind of neck condition that was causing head immobility.

The clinics and clinicians that provide this treatment in the UK will have received similar training and experience. However, we are the only clinic that manufactures its own helmet and our clinicians are closely involved with the process for each individual helmet that we produce.

In addition, we do not restrict review appointments to a set number, we are extremely flexible and respond to individual parents' needs so that the best outcome can be achieved for each baby.

The LOCband is non-invasive and works by applying gentle, constant pressure over the areas of the baby’s skull that are most prominent while allowing unrestricted growth over the flattened areas. The band consists of a soft foam layer inside a thermoplastic shell. As the baby grows, the band will be adjusted frequently to gently guide the skull into a more symmetrical shape.

;