LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Plagiocephaly, commonly known as Flat-Head Syndrome, can be scary to parents of an infant, as well as costly.
But one local doctor may have an answer.
Dr. Evette Florez says that she has had a 100% success rate in avoiding helmets for children who show signs of the condition if she works with them within their first few months of life.
“The interesting thing about the human head is that it innately wants to be round,” Florez said. “So you take away that pressure and it’ll just pop right back out.”
Dr. Florez explained that, since Flat-Head Syndrome is not a life-threatening illness, it is often ignored by pediatricians, even though it can result in serious consequences.
The incidents of Flat-Head Syndrome have exploded 600% in the United States since 1992.
In that same year, the “Back to Sleep” campaign was launched, in order to reduce the rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. This included the advice that parents only let their infants sleep on their backs.
Dr. Florez suggests that “tummy time”, in which infants are only on their bellies, should be mandated between five and eight times a day in order to prevent the need of a helmet to treat the condition.
Florez treats children who already show the signs of Flat-Head Syndrome with therapy sessions of stretching and exercising the muscles in the neck.
The helmets can be uncomfortable as well as costly, averaging around $4000, with most insurance companies only covering a small portion of the cost. In cases where a helmet is needed, it must be worn 23 hours per day, and can be required between 2 to 9 months.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of Flat-Head Syndrome:
• The mother carries multiples, such as twins.
• The baby is breech-born.
• A traumatic birth that requires tools to get the baby out.
• A premature delivery.
But Flat-Head Syndrome is reportedly a condition that can be helped, if action is taken early.
“If its just something that is identified quickly, and the parents are taught what to do, they could essentially help their child re-mold their heads so that its as round as it can be,” Dr. Florez said.