Craniosynostosis is a rare condition where a baby's skull doesn't grow properly and their head becomes an unusual shape. It doesn't always need to be treated, but surgery can help if it's severe.
Babies' heads come in all shapes and sizes. It's normal for their head to be a slightly unusual shape. It will often get better as they grow.
But your baby may have a problem like craniosynostosis if:
If the problem is very mild, it may not be noticeable until your child is older.
They can check if it could be craniosynostosis or a common problem in babies called flat head syndrome. This isn't serious and usually gets better by itself.
These problems can occur in young children with mild craniosynostosis if their skull puts pressure on their brain.
Your GP will examine your child's head. They may also take some measurements to see if it's an unusual size for your child's age.
If they think it could be craniosynostosis, they may refer you to a specialist centre for more tests, like X-rays or scans.
There are 4 specialist NHS centres for craniosynostosis:
Staff at the centre can check if your child does have craniosynostosis, what type it is and if it might need to be treated.
|Type||What it means|
|Sagittal synostosis||affects the top of the head, causing it to become long and narrow|
|Coronal synostosis||affects the side of the head, causing the forehead to be flattened on one side|
|Metopic synostosis||affects the forehead, causing it to become pointy or triangular|
|Lambdoid synostosis||affects the back of the head, causing it to become flattened on 1 side|
|Syndromic synostosis||affects more than one part of the head and can affect other parts of the body; caused by an underlying genetic condition (syndrome)|
The charity Headlines has more information about the main syndromes linked to syndromic synostosis.
Craniosynostosis doesn't always need to be treated. Your child may just have regular check-ups to monitor it.
Surgery may be recommended if:
Surgery usually involves making a cut across the top of your child's head, removing and reshaping the affected parts of their skull, and then fixing them back in place.
It's done under general anaesthetic (they're asleep). Your child may need to stay in hospital for up to a week afterwards.
Most children don't have any lasting health problems. They may have a scar across the top of their head if they had surgery, but this will be hidden by their hair.
Your child will have regular check-ups to see how they're doing. These may be every few weeks at first but will become less frequent as they get older.
If your child has severe craniosynostosis, surgery can't always fully correct the shape of their head and they may need ongoing care.
The charity Headlines can provide more information and support for people with craniosynostosis and their families.