Long-term developmental outcomes in patients with deformational plagiocephaly

Pediatrics. 2000 Feb;105(2):E26. doi: 10.1542/peds.105.2.e26.


Objectives: To determine whether there was an increased rate of later developmental delay in school-aged children who presented as infants with deformational plagiocephaly without obvious signs of delay at the time of initial evaluation.

Methods: A retrospective medical record review of 254 patients evaluated at the Craniofacial Center of the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, from 1980 through 1991 was completed. Consenting patient families were interviewed via telephone to determine what, if any, special medical or educational problems had occurred for the children who had had plagiocephaly in infancy or their siblings with normal head shapes.

Results: A total of 181 families from the medical record review could be notified about the study and 63 families agreed to participate in a telephone interview. The sample of participants for the telephone interview was random to and representative of the group as a whole. The families reported that 25 of the 63 children (39.7%) with persistent deformational plagiocephaly had received special help in primary school including: special education assistance, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy generally through an Individual Education Plan. Only 7 of 91 siblings (7.7%), serving as controls, required similar services (chi(2) = 21.24). Delays could not be specifically anticipated at the time of the diagnosis of deformational plagiocephaly from any simple set of factors including treatment with helmet therapy, although effected males with reported uterine constraint were at the highest risk for subsequent school problems.

Conclusions: Infants with deformational plagiocephaly comprise a high-risk group for developmental difficulties presenting as subtle problems of cerebral dysfunction during the school-age years. There is a need for additional research on the long-term developmental problems in infants with deformational plagiocephaly. plagiocephaly, facial asymmetry, torticollis, developmental delay.

MeSH terms

  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Random Allocation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull / abnormalities*