Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A "Heads" Up For All New Parents

We wanted to inform you about two words you won’t hear in prenatal and birth classes: Torticollis and Plagiocephaly. Torticollis is the tightening of a muscle on one side of the neck, which pulls the head toward the shoulder. Z was born with this because her head was wedged in L's pelvis for the last trimester. Because of her torticollis, she would only sleep on one side of her head, which has now caused plagiocephaly, a flat spot on that side of her head. Although her case isn’t severe and you probably think “big deal, her hair will cover it up when she’s older,” there are actually several problems that can occur later in life such as jaw misalignment (causing TMJ or jaw problems), vision problems, and the eyes and ears will be asymmetrical. I’m not sure why this isn’t discussed in birth-prep books because it now occurs in 1 in every 30 babies (some pediatricians even estimate more like 1 in 15), especially since babies are now put to sleep on their backs to greatly reduce the chances of SIDS.

The best way to treat this: Z has to wear a custom, corrective helmet called the DOC Band (Dynamic Orthotic Cranioplasty), 23 hours a day. Because of her young age, Z will only have to wear it for about 2 months, where older babies may have to wear it for several months to even one year. We also have to do neck stretching exercises several times a day with Z, which is always accompanied with some extremely heart-wrenching cries. So far, it hasn't been easy, but we are thankful this is very fixable and doesn't require surgery.

Just thought we’d inform you all since this seems like a condition that every new parent should know about. If you’d like more info, check out: