Unità Professionale di Riabilitazione Funzionale, AOU Meyer, Firenze
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Key words: Positional occipital plagiocephaly, Outcome, Motor and language development
Background - In the last fifteen years, numerous publications have reported the increase in the incidence of positional occipital plagiocephaly (POP) in babies since the recommendation of the supine position for sleep in the first months of life was introduced to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). On the contrary, there are few studies on the outcome of the cranial asymmetry in later childhood and none have been published on the follow-up of Italian babies presenting with the problem. Objectives - To investigate 1) the outcome in early childhood of the head shape in young babies presenting with POP in the first months of life and 2) eventual correlation of motor and/or language development problems. Methods - The clinical history of the 314 babies enrolled in the study was examined. Questionnaires enquiring into the parents’ evaluation of their children’s head shape and information on their motor and language milestones were distributed to the 232 couples of parents who agreed to participate in the study. Results - The data from the clinical notes confirmed the characteristics typical of babies who develop POP already described in literature. 199 parents returned the questionnaires; the average age of their children was 4.8 years (range 3.3 to 6.7 years). 87.5% of the parents considered the cosmetic appearance of their children’s head shape to be normal, whereas 30.2% reported a residual cranial asymmetry on palpation. 100% referred normal motor development but 34.4% reported some problems in language development. Conclusions - This study confirms the other data available in that POP can be considered mainly a cosmetic problem, which presents in the first months of life and greatly improves spontaneously during early childhood. Further studies need to investigate the relationship
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