3 Questions You May Have If Your Child Was Born With Craniosynostosis

Posted on: 3 February 2016

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If you recently had a baby that was born with craniosynostosis, you will probably have a lot of questions about this disorder. While it is not a common occurrence in babies, approximately 1 in 2,500 babies are affected by it. Here are three important things you should understand about this condition.

What Is Craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis is a problem with the way the skull forms on a baby. All babies are born with detached bones of the skull, but over time these bones bond together forming one solid bone. When a baby is born with craniosynostosis, these bones join together prematurely, which leaves the baby with an abnormally shaped skull.

When a baby is born, doctors are not always able to detect this condition immediately. When doctors can detect it right away, it is because of the abnormal shape of the baby's head. If this condition is not detected right away, your baby's doctor will usually spot it within a couple of months.

One of the first signs of craniosynostosis is a lack of soft spot on the baby's head. The soft spot on a baby's head indicates that the skull has not yet fully closed and bonded with all the bones. When a soft spot is absent, it is a good indication that the baby's skull closed prematurely.

When doctors detect or suspect this issue, they will typically take x-rays of the child's skull and complete a CT scan. Both of these tests will reveal if the condition exists and the extent of the problems the child has.

Does Craniosynostosis Cause Brain Damage?

Craniosynostosis can affect the way a child looks. It does not only cause a child's head shape to grow in a way that is abnormal, but it can also cause abnormalities to the child's forehead, jaw, eyes, and nose.

Depending on the severity of the condition, craniosynostosis is capable of causing damage to the brain. This can occur when the skull is placing too much pressure on the brain. This pressure could lead to damage, which may cause your child to have learning disabilities or delays. If the pressure is not released from the brain, this condition could lead to death.

As soon as doctors diagnose this condition, they will typically begin preparing for surgery to fix it. If it is fixed quickly, a child born with craniosynostosis will typically have normal brain activity.

How Is It Treated?

Craniosynostosis typically requires surgery to repair the problems. There are times when the condition is extremely mild and would not require surgery, but most cases do. The surgery is often completed when a child is between 6 to 12 months old, and it is designed to meet two goals:

  1. To relieve the pressure the skull is placing on the child's brain.
  2. To position the bones in a way that makes the child's head grow normally.

This surgery will often require removing portions of the child's skull bones. After that is complete, the doctor must reposition the rest of the bones in a way that helps them grow as they should. If this condition is not placing pressure on the child's brain, doctors may suggest performing the surgery when the child is older.

If the child has abnormalities on his or her face, a pediatric plastic surgeon can typically fix these problems through various types of surgical procedures. These surgeries are not typically completed when the child is a baby, though.

If your child was born with craniosynostosis, talk to your doctor to find out what they can do for him or her. Pediatric plastic surgeons are experienced with this condition, and they will be able to offer the help your child needs. Check out a clinic like Shriner's Hospital Cincinnati for more information.