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Study: Helmets Not Helpful For Babies With ‘Flat Head’ Syndrome

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(credit: JUNIOR D.KANNAH/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: JUNIOR D.KANNAH/AFP/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, special helmets are ineffective in treating some babies who developed a flat area on their head from lying in the same position for long periods of time.

One in five babies aged younger than 6 months have this problem, experts told HealthDay. The experts added that it has become more common in the wake of a campaign urging parents to place babies on their backs when they sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Researchers examined 84 babies who had moderate to severe flattened head. Half of the babies had a custom-made fitting helmet since they were 6 months old. They wore the helmet for 23 hours of the day, while the other half of the babies had no helmet.

By the time the babies were 2 years old, the researchers noticed there was no significant difference in improvement of the head, according to HealthDay.

The researchers said that the parents of the babies who wore helmets reported numerous amount of side effects.  Some of the side effects reported were skin irritation, unpleasant smell, sweating, and pain. Seventy-seven percent of the parents said the helmet made it difficult to cuddle with their baby.

The study found that parents from both groups were generally satisfied with the shape of the child’s head when the child reached 2 years of age.

Researchers asked the parents to rate their satisfaction level up to 5. Parents of the babies who wore the helmet were satisfied with a score of 4.6.  The parents of the babies who did not wear the helmet rated their satisfaction with a score of 4.4.

“Based on the difference of helmet therapy, and the high prevalence of side effects and high costs, we discourage the use of a helmet as a standard treatment for healthy infants with moderate to severe skull deformation,” Renske van Wijk, lead researcher from the University of Twente, in Enshede, Netherlands concluded, HealthDay reports.

The authors of the study noted that the helmets to treat flattened heads has little research behind it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that they have found in increase in SIDS associated with use of infant sleep positioners.

The study was published in the online edition of BMJ.

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