Plagiocephaly and Torticollis

What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly is the most common craniofacial problem today. Deformational plagiocephaly, also known as positional plagiocephaly, means a misshapen or uneven (asymmetrical) head shape. Plagiocephaly does not affect the development of a baby’s brain, but if not treated it may change their physical appearance by causing uneven growth of their face and head.


It is common for a newborn baby to have an unusual head shape. This can be caused by the position of the baby in the uterus during pregnancy or can happen during birth. Your baby’s head should go back to a normal shape within about six weeks after birth. Sometimes a baby’s head does not return to a normal shape and the baby may have developed a flattened spot at the back or side of the head. This condition is known as deformational plagiocephaly.

The bones of a newborn baby’s head are thin and flexible so the head is soft and may change shape easily. Flattening of the head in one area may happen if a baby lies with its head in the same position for a long time. If you have concerns about your baby’s head shape or if you notice that your baby only turns their head to one side when lying on their back, contact your local GP, community nurse, or paediatric physiotherapist.

A baby’s head position needs to be varied during sleep and awake periods. There are some simple things you can do to help prevent your baby from developing deformational plagiocephaly:

Vary the holding and carrying positions of your baby. For example, use a sling, hold upright for cuddles, carry your baby over your arm on their tummy or side.

The Physiotherapists at Therapies for Kids are experienced at treating children with Plagiocephaly. Our physiotherapists provide:

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What is Torticollis?

Torticollis means twisted neck and if a child has this condition, their head will be tilted to one side while their chin is turned to the other side. When a baby is born with this condition it is called congenital torticollis. About 1 in 250 babies are born with torticollis.


Congenital torticollis is most commonly caused by tightness in the muscle that connects the breastbone and collarbone to the skull. This muscle is called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Congenital torticollis is usually diagnosed within the first two months of life. Babies with torticollis may develop positional plagiocephaly because they sleep with their head turned to one side.

Your physiotherapist may:

You can carry out the home programme given by your physiotherapist. In addition, you can adapt the positions your baby uses during the day when awake and provide maximal tummy time when awake.

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