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Causes of Positional Plagiocephaly

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Updated November 13, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

back-sto-sleep positioning

Baby Sleeping on Back

Yuji Kotani / Getty Images

Positional plagiocephaly is caused by, as the name indicates, positioning. A child lying on the back for most of the time can develop a change in the shape of the back of the head. It is usually called “flat head.” After the introduction of the “Back to Sleep” Campaign in 1992 to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the incidence of skull deformities increased by a whopping 600 percent. (But, SIDS decreased by 40 percent.)

Flattening of the head can also occur due to torticollis, also known as wry neck. With torticollis, the child holds the head to one side. Because the child’s head is always turned to one side, pressure on the back of the head is always at the same site, leading to flattening. Spine problems as well vision problems can cause a child to hold the head in a certain position, leading to flattening of the head.

Next Page: Plagiocephaly Treatment

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