What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagio-cephaly is a translation from the greek to mean ‘flat-head’, which is why Plagiocephaly is also commonly referred to as "Flat Head Syndrome"

The flattening is at the back on one side towards one of the ears.

There are fundamentally two types of plagiocephaly. One is extremely rare whereas the other is relatively common.

Postional Plagiocephaly

The common type is called Positional Plagiocephaly, which as it’s name implies, is as a result from the baby lying in a certain position.

When the weight of a baby’s skull is placed on a flat surface and repeatedly in the same position.

The incidence of positional plagiocephaly is really quite common. It is thought that one baby in three will have an asymmetry to the shape of the head.

When viewed from above, the side of the head that appears flat will have a shorter length to the opposite frontal area than the corresponding diagonal on the other side (In order words, the front left to back right diagonal is a different measurement compared to the opposite side).

The head shape may be perfectly normal at birth and then may quickly become apparent to the parents at just a few weeks old.

Unless the parents clearly understand the cause and therefore are armed with a plan to remove the cause the condition may well become more exaggerated or worsen quite quickly.


The rare type is called Craniosynostosis. This simply means an early closure of one or more of the plates of bones making up the skull.

The result is to have an altered growth pattern in one area of the skull that causes the deformity (rather like blowing up a balloon with a piece of sellotape stuck to one side limiting the natural expansion).

In this group there is no set pattern to the altered shape of the skull and often is it discovered on scanning the baby’s skull.

The occurrence of this type if Plagiocephaly is rare, around 1 in 2000 births, with three quarters of cases being boys.