Plagiocephaly Awareness: 3 Reasons to spread the word!

March 20th is Plagiocepahly Awareness Day!

Over the course of many years, I have become very passionate and concerned for infants who are having problems with their head shape and their neck function. Some have already been diagnosed with plagiocephaly; many don’t have a formal diagnosis, but they have “tummy time” trouble or feeding trouble. I felt that Plagiocephaly Awareness Day opened an opportunity for me to get the word out.

I have gained much experience in treating infants with head shape and neck function problems for over 7 years. So, when Marie Biancuzzo asked me to be a guest on Born to be Breastfed to talk about baby head shape, I cheerfully agreed. Here are three reasons I am eager to do this interview.

To help create early recognition of this problem

When you notice a head shape problem on your baby you should bring it to your pediatrician’s attention. But how will the pediatrician react?

Plagiocephaly is often overlooked. Often, it seems to me that front-line doctors are under concerned and under-trained to catch baby head shape problems. If you’re the parent, perhaps you’ve already been told that your baby’s head shape:

  • is not a big deal
  • is harmless, only cosmetic and—not pathology (dangerous disease)
  • will fix itself; he/she will “outgrow” it.

And, maybe you believed that. But should you?

There is NO research to substantiate those claims, and, in my experience, a baby’s head shape affects his well-being in the short haul and long haul.

Truthfully, if these head-shape conditions fixed themselves, I would not be writing this blog post and baby helmets would not exist. My interview would not be aired on an internationally syndicated show. Moreover, since I’m in the business of helping these infants, I would be out of a job if abnormal baby head-shapes were not a persistent problem.

Clearly, I have plenty of work to do. During the past 6 years, I have safely given approximately 3,000 adjustments and spinal manipulations to more than one thousand infants. In doing so, I have had a valuable and unique insight to baby head shape problems and possible causes.

I am trying to figure out how to catch this as early as the first few days, and to treat it conservatively as soon as possible. In order to do this, I need your help!

If your baby has an unusual head shape, don’t stop trying to get help for your baby just because your doctor tells you the baby will outgrow it. Insist on proactive treatment. 

To offer a perspective beyond the internet or friends

As parents, we often turn to the internet, social media, and support groups for guidance and recommendations. That’s okay for now, but these social encounters give a limited perspective and certainly aren’t a standard of care.

Several online support groups discuss the possible origins of an abnormal baby head shape (plagiocephaly) and how it can be treated. Many suggest helmets and various other therapies including chiropractic care. I have spent many hours following these online groups, interacting with other parents, and digging around to find the “research” that is mentioned there.

However, there is very little research to back up many of these treatments. Sure, there are several anecdotal reports published in the professional literature, but very few randomized controlled trials that address any cause-effect and the treatment of plagiocephaly.

Overall, I am convinced that we have a very small understanding of this condition. There is no clear agreement on the cause—much less the treatment—for plagiocephaly. As parents, we need real science to confidently make informed choices for our families.

To help parents save time, money and stress

Most parents opt for the most “popular” treatment. But such popular treatments can be out of pocket and highly expensive. Effectiveness of the following treatment options vary and the research varies as well.

Avg: Helmet cost: $2,300 to $4,000   

Avg: PT visit: $100-$150 per visit- mostly consists of at home care and re-positioning instructions. May need several visits.

Avg. Chiropractic: $50 per visit. May need several visits (total cost: approx. $500)

These treatment costs are adding up to approximately cost America $ 450-520 million a year.

In short, I want to help parents and empower them to help their children. The reality is that most young families cannot afford extensive treatment that can cost them thousands of dollars and hours of frustration and stress—and often, few actual results. In my experience, early detection and proactive chiropractic treatment seems to cost the least and be the most effective method.

Please share this podcast and blog post with your friends so we can all be informed and help increase awareness of plagiocephaly! Questions? email me: 

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