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What is Craniosynostosis?

infant wearing an orthopedic helmet

Craniosynostosis is a birth defect where parts of the baby’s skull close up too soon before the brain has developed completely. It is estimated that 1 in approximately 2,500 babies are born with this defect. For those who are new parents, what are the first signs of craniosynostosis?

Recent Findings About the Cause of Craniosynostosis

Research studies conducted by the CDC have determined some possible causes of craniosynostosis and what factors increase the chance of a child being born with it.

  • Women who are treated for thyroid disease during pregnancy are more at risk than women who do not have thyroid disease.
  • Women who used clomiphene citrate, a drug for fertility, just before or early in their pregnancy are more at risk to birth a child with this defect vs a woman who did not take that drug.

Prior to these new findings, the condition was thought to occur sporadically or inherited through family.

What Exactly Happens With Craniosynostosis?

A baby’s skull is made of bone plates that meet at various fibrous seams called  sutures. These sutures are the growth plates of the skull and allow the skull to grow. If one of these sutures closes too early, the skull is unable to grow normally. This condition is known as craniosynostosis.  

This condition causes significant deformity of the child’s head shape over time and can result in increased pressure on the child’s brain. This can prevent normal development of the underlying brain. 

The First Signs of Craniosynostosis

The first sign of craniosynostosis is an irregularly shaped head.

An infant with this condition will develop hard ridges along any affected suture. The changes can be seen at birth or during the first few months. You can see changes in the shape of the head and face. One side of the child’s face may look very different from the other side.

Children with abnormal head shape may also have conditions related to positioning, known as positional plagiocephaly. It is important for children with abnormal head shapes, especially those that are not improving within the first several months, to be evaluated by a pediatric neurosurgeon or craniofacial specialist to see if treatment is needed. 

Treatments for Craniosynostosis

Treating this condition involves a surgical procedure to remove the affected suture, correct the shape of the head, and allow for the brain growth to continue..

Early diagnosis and treatment is vital.

Contact Pediatric Neurosurgery Group at (313) 833-4490 for testing and treatment at our pediatric neurosurgery clinic in Detroit, Michigan if you notice any of the first signs of craniosynostosis in your infant.

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