Cranial and facial asymmetry is very common in newborns, due to the “softness” of the skull bones at birth.
It can be caused by pressures in the uterus during pregnancy and delivery or because of the regular placement of the infant in one position during sleep. The latter leads to flat head syndrome (also called “positional plagiocephaly”).
Neither causes harm the infant’s brain development or causes permanent changes in appearance. Surgery is not required; rather simply changes in the baby’s sleep position and more time spent on its stomach.
Torticollis — tight neck muscles on one side of the neck — sometimes causes a flattened head.
In severe cases of asymmetry and/or torticollis, the doctor will prescribe cranial orthosis (a “helmet”) to be worn up to the child’s first year of age.
Most cases, however, are solved by simple changes in sleeping habits and a few special exercises.