Craniosynostosis

Also known as: synostosis

What is craniosynostosis?

Most babies are born with a skull made up of several bony plates that are not yet fused together by bone, but are joined together by soft tissue. These lines of soft tissue are called “sutures” or “suture lines”; they allow the head to be flexible and mold as it passes through the birth canal. They also let the head and brain grow and develop after birth. These sutures normally “close” with bone by the time the infant is 2-3 years of age. When a baby has craniosynostosis, however, one or more of the bones of the skull are joined together by bone prematurely, which may lead to problems depending on which, and how many sutures have closed early.


What causes craniosynostosis? 

The cause of craniosynostosis is sometimes not known. In some cases, it may be a genetic disorder inherited from the parents. Other times, craniosynostosis is a secondary sign of a separate genetic disease.


What are the signs and symptoms of craniosynostosis? 

The physical signs of craniosynostosis are usually noticeable at birth, but sometimes can only become apparent during the first months of life. Usually signs include a misshapen skull or a hard ridge can be felt where the bones come together. The baby’s head may also not grow normally (or at all) as your baby ages.


What are craniosynostosis care options?

The mildest forms of craniosynostosis may not require surgery and your physician might recommend a specially molded helmet which can help to reshape your baby’s head. For most babies however surgery will be required to reopen the suture/s of the skull, allowing  room for the growing brain and also improve the overall appearance of the baby’s head.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 2/23/2017 10:12:07 AM

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