One of my clients had a baby like this. She had been in labor for three days! The baby had a funny shaped head. One week passes. Two weeks pass. His forehead now bulges a bit. He has a pronounced back of the head. Her question becomes, is this normal?
The condition is called craniosynostosis, or more simply, the closing of skull sutures prematurely and occurs in ~1 in 2,500 births worldwide. The most common occurrence, when the middle sutures close causing a thin elongated head, occurs mostly in boys. Because the brain continues to grow after birth at a rapid rate, it doesn’t have room to expand so it pushes out where it can. This is not usually a dangerous condition, but it does cause oddly shaped heads in adulthood.
The normal skull consists of several plates of bone that are separated by sutures. The sutures (fibrous joints) are found between the bony plates in the head. The function of the suture is to allow molding through the birth canal and adjustments for the growing brain. As the infant grows and develops, the sutures close, forming a solid piece of bone, called the skull. (craniocarebears.org)
Craniosynostosis is a condition in which the sutures close prematurely, causing problems with normal brain and skull growth and premature closure of the fontanelles (soft spots). Premature closure of the sutures may also cause the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull or facial bones to change from a normal, symmetrical appearance.
Today, there is a rather simple surgery that simply reopens the closed skull suture, and conducts moderate reconstruction of the skull. It seems that the ideal age is between 3-5 months to perform this surgery. The older the child is, the more complicated the recovery.
In Israel, this surgery and hospitalization time, are completely covered under the basket of services. There are several hospitals in Israel that perform this surgery including Ichilov, (Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center) Hadassah and Assuta. It seems that Dr. Shlomi Constantini, a neurosurgeon at Dana’s Children Hospital of Sourasky Medical Center, is one of the worldwide experts in this operation.
How do you know if your child has this condition? Ask the pediatrician on your regular visit. Better yet, when the Tipat Chalav nurse measures your baby’s head, she will most likely tell you if she has any concerns.
Have you ever encountered this health issue? Let us know!