We're Creating an Epidemic of Flat-Headed Babies

Nearly half of all infants today have flat spots on their heads—some which require corrective helmets—and it's all our fault.

According to a new study—conducted by researchers at Mount Royal University in Calgary—about half of all two-month-old babies have a condition called positional plagiocephaly (flat spots) which can sometimes affect a child's facial features. After surveying nearly 500 babies, ages 7 to 12 weeks, across different neighborhoods in Calgary, researchers found that 46.6 percent had "some form of the condition."

While parents and pediatricians have noticed an increase in the occurrence of flat heads in recent years, the study is the first of its kind. The condition is believed to be caused by well-meaning parents who follow advice to place infants on their backs for sleeping (and hanging out in general), a technique that has greatly reduced the number of deaths from SIDS. Keeping babies on their backs in their cribs, as well as car seats, swings, and infant chairs, can cause their heavy heads to create flat spots where they rest that can become permanent if not caught soon enough. The condition can be corrected by "tummy time" in which an infant spends awake time on his/her stomach, but sometimes the flatness is so bad it requires a helmet to mold it back to a round shape.

Image via Darren Brode/Shutterstock

Nearly half of babies have flat spots, study finds [NBC News]