Children's Hospital Colorado

Abnormal Head Growth and Shapes in Children (S2:E18)

When a parent notices their baby has an abnormal head shape, they are understandably distressed. However, head shape abnormalities are very common in babies. Every pediatrician will encounter craniosynostosis (the early fusion of a baby's skull, which causes an atypical shape) at some point during their career.

Listen to our pediatric neurosurgery expert discuss abnormal pediatric head growth

Todd Hankinson, MD, pediatric neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital Colorado, joins Charting Pediatrics for today's discussion. He explores the many facets of abnormal head shapes in children, including how to determine which category head shape abnormalities fall into, the four general types of craniosynostosis and how to educate and reassure parents.

In this episode, we consider:

  • How to determine which category head shape abnormalities fall into
  • The four general types of craniosynostosis in children
  • The main reasons to perform corrective surgery for children with craniosynostosis
  • Best practices for differentiating between unilateral positional plagiocephaly and lambdoid craniosynostosis
  • The impact of prolonged stays in the NICU on the development of plagiocephaly
  • When to refer children with head shape abnormalities to imaging
  • How to talk to families of children with head shape abnormalities about next steps
  • Different treatment plans for children with craniosynostosis
  • The subset of patients with craniosynostosis who receive genetic testing
  • Partnering with referring providers after surgery has been completed
  • Routine follow-up care, including head circumference measurements
  • The outcomes for a normal life and normal IQ post-surgery for babies with craniosynostosis
  • The referral and recommendation procedures for babies with plagiocephaly
  • The controversy surrounding helmet therapy for plagiocephaly
  • Key education points providers should share with parents on this topic

Treating abnormal head growth, including "flat head syndrome," at Children's Colorado

Babies with abnormal head growth and/or shapes are treated by our Pediatric Neurosurgery Program. Pediatric neurology experts offer integrated and comprehensive treatments for all types of disorders affecting the nervous system and skull including traumatic injury, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, brain tumors, and facial and skull deformities. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.