Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Family & Parenting
  3. Parenting Issues

Positional plagiocephaly leads to increase in ear infections

 "Tummy Time" is important in the prevention
  of positional plagiocephaly. Photo by Jessica McMaken

Children with severe head flattening caused by lying on their backs  have a higher-than-normal rate of ear infections, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.

The Back to Sleep Campaign has been very successful at reducing the SIDS rate, but there have been a couple of unforeseen outcomes. First, children began to meet milestones later because they were not developing the head control and trunk strength that comes from spending time on their tummies. To remedy this, pediatricians began to prescribe "tummy time" to ensure that babies were getting the "exercise" they need.

Another side effect of all the time spent on their backs is the development of "positional plagiocephaly" or head flattening. It is generally more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one and positional plagiocephaly does not interfere with brain development. 

This new study linking positional plagiocephaly to ear infections does raise some concerns for parents. Though ear infections are typically easily treated, they are painful for young children.  Furthermore, recurrent and persistent ear infections in infancy can interfere with speech development because a child's hearing is compromised while the ear is infected.

To prevent and treat plagiocephaly, experts recommend changing the position of a child's head while he is sleeping so that he is not always lying on the same side. Also, limiting the amount of time a child spends on his back while awake can prevent head flattening. Babywearing is great for this as it keeps the child upright and engaged with the world rather than lying on his back. 

For more info: Learn more about the risk factors for severe plagiocephaly.




  • Johnny Manziel
    Should Johnny Manziel apologize for his hard partying over the offseason?
    Today's Buzz
  • Crop circles
    Similar crop circles appeared in Germany and England within days of each other
    19 Photos
  • Advanced placement
    The AP program is gaining traction as a key component in college admissions
    5 Photos
  • Beach hats
    Beat the heat with the best summer beach hats for women
    Beach Hats
  • Expectations for ministry
    Pastor preaches to newly ordained ministers about expectations for ministry
    6 Photos
  • Medical symptoms
    See which symptoms should cause you to seek a doctor’s attention right away
    6 Photos