Prevention and management of positional skull deformities in infants. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, Section on Plastic Surgery and Section on Neurological Surgery

Pediatrics. 2003 Jul;112(1 Pt 1):199-202. doi: 10.1542/peds.112.1.199.


Cranial asymmetry may be present at birth or may develop during the first few months of life. Over the past several years, pediatricians have seen an increase in the number of children with cranial asymmetry, particularly unilateral flattening of the occiput. This increase likely is attributable to parents following the American Academy of Pediatrics "Back to Sleep" positioning recommendations aimed at decreasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Although associated with some risk of deformational plagiocephaly, healthy young infants should be placed down for sleep on their backs. This practice has been associated with a dramatic decrease in the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome. Pediatricians need to be able to properly diagnose skull deformities, educate parents on methods to proactively decrease the likelihood of the development of occipital flattening, initiate appropriate management, and make referrals when necessary. This report provides guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, and management of positional skull deformity in an otherwise normal infant without evidence of associated anomalies, syndromes, or spinal disease.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Occipital Bone / injuries
  • Skull / injuries*
  • Skull / pathology
  • Skull / surgery
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Sudden Infant Death / prevention & control
  • Supine Position*