November 30, 2022


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Child’s Head Form: Why It is Uneven, When to Fear

12 min read

Infants don’t all the time have a superbly spherical formed heads, and it’s simple to start out worrying as a brand new guardian.

Why does my child have such an odd head form? Will they ever look regular? Is the uneven form an indication of some underlying situation?

The pinnacle of a new child differs from that of an older toddler or toddler. Untimely infants have softer cranium bones than full-term infants. As well as, there are components that may change a child’s head form. Some head shapes could also be an indication of an issue or underlying medical situation. It is very important distinguish what form is regular from what is an indication of an issue.

To type out what’s regular and never, we requested Pediatrican Leah Alexander to stroll us by toddler head form improvement and doable medical considerations.

baby's head shape

Your Child’s Head Form: Regular Improvement, Medical Considerations

The Anatomy of an Toddler’s Head

An toddler’s head consists of an outer layer of bushy pores and skin, underlying muscle, and the cranium bones. Within the cranium lies the mind with its connecting nerves and blood vessels. The mind is surrounded by a liquid referred to as the cerebral spinal fluid. This fluid each cushions the mind, and supplies a conduit for vitamins and removing of mobile waste.

At delivery, the cranium is separated into 5 bone items which might be held collectively by connective tissue. This construction is vital to permit mobility of the cranium bones because the child’s head passes by the delivery canal. It additionally leaves room for the mind to develop over the primary few years of life. The open areas between the bones are referred to as fontanelles. Most newborns have 4 of those “tender spots,’ the most important of which is situated on the highest of the pinnacle.

Additional time, the cranium bones develop, harden, and are available collectively to type a whole vessel for the mind.

The Regular Development of Fontanelle Closure

Every fontanelle closes at a special time all through the primary two years of life. The scale of the anterior and posterior fontanelles are sometimes bigger amongst infants of African ancestry. The anterior fontanelle closes earlier in boys than it does in ladies.

fontanelle closure

If any of those openings shut too quickly, the cranium can limit mind development. Any that stay open longer than anticipated can point out a head measurement that’s too giant.

At routine effectively visits, the physician will look at your child’s head to verify for indicators of an issue. Its measurement will probably be measured and recorded on a head circumference chart. This enables any issues to be detected early. What is taken into account a “regular” head measurement differs for every toddler, and is influenced by hereditary components.

It’s extra vital that the pinnacle to develop at a gentle and constant charge, and for it to be proportional to the scale of the toddler’s physique.

Causes For Irregular Toddler Head Shapes

Delivery-related Causes

Extended Supply

Generally, the delivery course of itself alters the form of a new child’s head. When a vaginal supply takes longer than the anticipated period of time, the toddler’s head can turn out to be molded throughout the delivery canal. This may occasionally end in what some mother and father name a “cone-shaped head.”

Luckily, it is a non permanent problem. The tender connective tissues and versatile cranium bones return to a standard form in the course of the first week of life.

Vacuum Extraction

If an assistive system is used in the course of the supply to assist the toddler’s head move, the stress may end up in a short lived head form abnormality. Generally, a vacuum system is used, attaching it to the infants head to drag because the mom pushes. It’s used when fetal misery happens, and the child have to be delivered shortly. It could additionally forestall a caesarean part.

After a vacuum process, the child could have a “cone-shaped” head on account of swelling underneath the scalp from the suction power of the vacuum system. This swelling, referred to as a caput succedaneum, self-resolves throughout the first two days of life.

Alternatively, an accumulation of blood could type underneath the scalp, referred to as a cephalohematoma. A troublesome supply of an toddler with a big head could trigger it as effectively. In contrast to a caput succedaneum, this assortment of blood is often situated on one aspect of the pinnacle. It may take one to 2 months for a cephalohematoma to go away. Because the blood breaks down, it might trigger the child’s pores and skin to seem yellow, or jaundiced.

Whereas nonetheless within the hospital, docs could order a blood check to ensure these blood byproducts aren’t at a excessive stage. The scale of the cephalohematoma will step by step lower because the blood inside it’s reabsorbed and metabolized. Bigger ones, nonetheless, could take extra time to resolve, and might calcify, making a everlasting change within the form of the cranium.

Head Form Abnormalities Related to Positioning


Through the first few months of life, mother and father could discover that an space of their child’s head begins to seem flat. This head form change is called plagiocephaly. It most frequently happens because the child’s head rests on a flat floor for prolonged intervals of time.

The again of the pinnacle is the commonest location due to the period of time infants spend mendacity on their backs. This sort is extra particularly referred to as brachycephaly. By age three months, 46 p.c of infants have some quantity of head flattening. It could, nonetheless, be current at delivery in new child twins or multiples on account of in utero stress towards the pinnacle.

Some infants develop flattening one aspect of the pinnacle together with facial asymmetry. These infants are inclined to look extra in a single path than the opposite, leading to stress on that very same aspect of the pinnacle. Normally, the child can simply flip the pinnacle in both path, however there’s a choice for one aspect.

Some infants, nonetheless, have a neck muscle downside that limits head actions. If a proper or left sternocleidomastoid muscle is injured throughout delivery, it may end up in torticollis. In such conditions, intervention is important to enhance neck mobility and forestall longterm issues.

Due to weeks to months of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care, many untimely infants develop head form adjustments. One or each side of the child’s head could also be come flat on account of prolonged intervals of mendacity on a hospital mattress. This head molding is extra seen in preemies born previous to 30 weeks gestation who require longterm hospital care.

Fontanelle Closure Issues


If a number of “tender spots” shut sooner than anticipated, this will trigger an uncommon toddler head form.

For instance, if each side of the anterior fontanelle shut too quickly, the pinnacle will seem “pointed” and elongated. In distinction, if the appropriate aspect of the anterior fontanelle closes earlier than the left aspect, the child’s head will protrude on the left aspect.

This cranium abnormality is called craniosynostosis. There are additionally circumstances the place this closure happens in utero, though it is probably not seen at delivery. Over time, the irregular head form turns into evident.

Maternal thyroid illness and a few fertility medicines improve the chance.

Craniosynostosis is problematic as a result of the child’s mind doesn’t have room to develop. To stop longterm issues, surgical intervention is important.


Macrocephaly is outlined as a bigger than regular head measurement. When plotted on a head circumference chart, the child’s head is above the 97th percentile or what’s regular for many infants.

The bigger head measurement of some infants could also be constant that of their mother and father, however it is very important rule out problematic causes of macrocephaly. Hydrocephalus and different causes of elevated stress throughout the cranium require rapid medical consideration.


Hydrocephalus happens when there’s an excessive amount of cerebral spinal fluid across the mind. This extra fluid will increase stress throughout the cranium, and might injury mind cells. Hydrocephalus can develop on account of an excessive amount of fluid manufacturing, or a structural abnormality that blocks fluid outflow. It could additionally develop after a traumatic supply.

As well as the child’s head showing too giant, different indicators embrace a bulging anterior fontanelle, downward place of the child’s eyes, seizures, and lethargy. In additional subtile circumstances, the closure of fontanelles is delayed.

Improve Intracranial Stress

Any irregular construction that types throughout the cranium will increase stress on the mind, and might lead a bigger than regular head measurement.

A mind abscess could type if an an infection happens in the course of the neonatal interval. Delivery trauma may cause bleeding across the mind, forming a group of blood throughout the cranium.

Mind tumors additionally improve stress on the mind. Signs are just like these seen with hydrocephalus, however the toddler could also be very irritable on account of complications. Frequent vomiting could happen that’s extra voluminous than regular toddler reflux.


A smaller than regular head measurement is called microcephaly. It could be current at delivery, or the pinnacle could subsequently fail to develop at a standard charge. This head abnormality is related to a smaller mind measurement, mind structural abnormalities, and impaired cognitive improvement sooner or later. It could happen alone, or together with different bodily abnormalities.

Infants with this situation have visibly bigger faces and jawlines. There are a number of causes of microcephaly, together with genetic mutations, infections, and prenatal publicity to alcohol, medicine, and different toxins.

In recent times, maternal Zika virus infections have been linked to toddler microcephaly. As a result of mind improvement is irregular, all types of microcephaly are related to longterm neurological issues.

Delivery Defects

There are a number of medical circumstances current at delivery which might be related to an irregular head form. In these circumstances, the child’s cranium bones don’t type correctly whereas rising in utero. This may occasionally even be poor formation of nerves and their connections throughout the mind.

Congenital head abnormalities can happen on account of genetic mutations, hereditary predisposition, prenatal poisonous exposures, and infections. Many are related to microcephaly or macrocephaly. Abnormalities elsewhere on the physique might also be current.

Though there are an unlimited variety of explanation why an toddler has a delivery defect, a number of particular ones are value mentioning:

abnormal baby head shape due to birth defects

What Head Form Abnormalities Require Therapy?

Most childbirth associated head form abnormalities self-resolve, and don’t require remedy. One exception is that if a calcified cephalohematoma develops that causes a major head deformity. Mother and father could go for surgical correction in such circumstances.

The suggestions for administration of plagiocephaly fluctuate.

Generally, conservative measures reminiscent of extra “stomach time” and upright positioning as core muscle energy improves are enough to advertise the return of a standard head form.

Molding helmets have turn out to be fashionable “re-shaping” choices amongst mother and father. Though their use has been endorsed by the American Affiliation of Neurological Surgeons, some scientific research haven’t discovered important enhancements in an toddler’s head form.

If mother and father select any such intervention, the optimum time to hunt an analysis toddler is round six months. Ready till this age is good as a result of the pinnacle flattening could have already improved or self-resolved. After 18 months outdated, remedy with a molding helmet could be harder and take longer. When an toddler’s plagiocephaly is related to torticolis, bodily remedy is the mainstay of remedy. Mother and father can proceed strategies utilized in remedy periods at dwelling. Persistent circumstances require neurology or surgical evaluations.

Head form abnormalities brought on by underlying medical issues usually require neurosurgical intervention.

To scale back the elevated intracranial stress of hydrocephalus, a shunt is surgically implanted from the cranium to the stomach so as to drain the among the fluid across the mind.

A mind abscess or assortment of blood could require surgical drainage.

Fontanelles that shut too quickly have to be surgically re-opened to permit the toddler’s mind to develop usually. Molding helmets could also be used after surgical procedure to additional enhance head form.

Sadly, there isn’t any remedy for microcephaly or the sequelae of many delivery defects. Signs are managed by a multidisciplinary workforce that features neurologists, developmental pediatricians, geneticists, and craniofacial specialists.

Often Requested Questions on Child’s Head Form

How lengthy does it take a standard toddler’s head to “spherical out”?

If areas of a child’s head have turn out to be flattened in the course of the first few months of life, they need to naturally start to “spherical out” between six to eight months outdated.

Do infants outgrow torticollis?

Torticollis isn’t a head form concern, however a head place concern. It’s a situation the place your child’s neck muscle tissues trigger their head to twist and tilt to at least one aspect. So, do infants outgrow torticillis? Sure. Bodily remedy is often initiated by age two months, and 97 p.c of circumstances utterly resolve. If, after six months of bodily remedy, there isn’t any enchancment, botox injections or surgical procedures could also be thought-about.

Is torticollis linked to autism?

No. There isn’t any affiliation with autism.

Do pillows assist cut back plagiocephaly?

Whether or not or not a pillow reduces plagiocephaly has not been studied on account of dangers to the toddler. Pillows, blankets, and different tender surfaces aren’t advisable for infants, and improve the probability of sudden toddler loss of life syndrome (SIDS).

Will my two yr outdated’s head “spherical out?” At what age is a baby’s head form everlasting?

A toddler’s head will proceed to reshape itself, albeit at a slower charge, till the entire fontanelles shut at age three. The cranium bones are additionally extra calcified, and have a thicker density at this age.

How frequent is it for an toddler to have a “cone head?”

There are not any statistics on the prevalence of non permanent molding that happens throughout supply. A caput succedaneum (i.e. cone head”) is seen in as much as 33 p.c of infants.

Do pediatricians verify head form?

Sure. At every effectively go to, a child’s head is examined for any form abnormalities. Head measurements are recorded on a head circumference development chart.

What’s megalencephaly?

Megalencephaly is the time period for an abnormally giant mind measurement in an toddler. This differs from macrocephaly which displays the scale of the cranium.

Megalencephaly is commonly related to malformations of the mind tissue itself or the blood vessels that provide it. In consequence, the toddler or little one could have seizures, spinal twine issues, and delays in speech and motor expertise. This situation is commonly a element of a genetic dysfunction that additionally impacts limbs and different organs.

Are ridges on a child’s head regular?

Some infants and toddlers have outstanding bone edges across the fontanelles which might be seen on the pores and skin floor. Generally, these are regular. Nonetheless, if these ridges are related to a misshapen head, it’s probably that the fontanelles are closing too quickly.

Mother and father ought to have this evaluated by their pediatrician, and the child must be referred to a neurosurgeon for imaging.


As seen, there are a lot of each delivery associated, place associated, and medically associated explanation why a child’s head form could also be uneven. It is very important keep in mind that in most case, the pinnacle form abnormalities self-resolve, and don’t require remedy. Nonetheless, since not all abnormalities self-resolve and a few circumstances of uneven head shapes are on account of medical circumstances that want remedy and a spotlight, it is very important seek the advice of a pediatrician for those who discover something uncommon about your child’s head form. 


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