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What is Flat Head Syndrome

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Flat head syndrome is a condition characterised by the flattening on one side of the back of the head. This is due to the distortion of the skull plates. 80% of skull growth takes place in the first year of life and slows after the first 12-18 months. Skull fuses at around 18-24 months.


Types of Flat Head Syndrome


  • Most common type of flathead syndrome, also known as deformational or positional plagiocephaly
  • Misshapen (asymetrical) shape of the head from repeated pressure to the same area of the head, resulting in head being flat on one side
  • Facial asymetry might be present (positions of ears and differing size of eyes and cheeks)
  • Head shape resembles a parallelogram from top view


  • Head is abnormally wide (in a normal head shape, width is about 73-78% of length)
  • Flattened back of the head visible from side view
  • Head can be very high at the back causing a bulging forehead (visible from side view)
  • Face appears small relative to the size of the head
  • Widest part of the head is just above the ears
  • Tips of ears protrude
  • Head shape resembles a trapezoid from above


  • Combination of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly
  • Present of facial asymmetry (where ears and eyes might appear mis-aligned)
  • Head is excessively wider and taller than normal with sloped forehead
  • Head shape resembles a trapezoid from above


  • Characterised by a long and narrow head shape, sometimes caused by consistent positioning of the baby on its side
  • Deformity of proportion
  • Premature babies are particularly prone to this deformity since their skulls are so fragile and a side-lying position is often used in the neonatal intensive care for easy access to monitors and other equipment.

What causes Flat Head?

Possible causes include Torticollis (Tilted neck), sleeping positions, premature or multiple (eg. twins) births, inter-uterine position, birth trauma, assisted birth and more.


When an infant has torticollis, the head will be tilted to one side while the chin is turned to the other side, sometimes called wryneck. It may look painful, it usually isn’t. While it may look painful, it usually isn’t. When a baby is born with the condition, it’s called congenital torticollis. The prolong, one-sided head positioning potentially causes flattening on the side that the head is tilted towards, resulting in plagiocephaly.

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