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Cases of 'Flattened Head' Babies on the Rise, Study Finds
Date:4/4/2011

MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Cases of "flattened head" in infants and young children appear to be on the rise, a new study of babies in Texas indicates.

Incidences of plagiocephaly -- flattening of the skull in either the front or rear of the head -- have reportedly increased since the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended in 1992 that infants be put to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), said the researchers.

The new study appears to confirm that. The researchers reviewed data from the Texas Birth Defects Registry and identified cases of plagiocephaly reported between 1999 and 2007. During that time, the number of cases rose from three to 28.8 per 10,000 live births -- a more than ninefold increase.

The total number of reported cases during the study period was 6,295, and the average number of cases rose by more than 21 percent per year. A large part of the statewide increase occurred in the Dallas/Fort Worth region, where the prevalence of plagiocephaly increased 23.2 times, from 2.6 to 60.5 cases per 10,000 live births.

The increase in cases in Texas was seen in all subgroups, whether based on mother's age, race/ethnicity, education level or on an infant factor such as sex or gestational age.

"A small part of this might have been due to delayed compliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for supine infant sleeping and a slight increase in preterm births," wrote a team led by Shane U. Sheu, from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

However, pediatric experts were quick to say that the finding should in no way dissuade parents from protecting their babies from SIDS by placing them to sleep on their backs.

"The recommendation for sleeping the babies on their backs in early infancy still stands, for the tragedy of SIDS does not compare to a flattened occiput [back of head]," said Dr. Peter Richel, chief of
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