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Helmets of No Long-Term Benefit for Infants with Positional Skull Deformity — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
May 2, 2014

Helmets of No Long-Term Benefit for Infants with Positional Skull Deformity

By Amy Orciari Herman

Helmet therapy for infants with positional skull deformity does not result in better head shape at age 2 years, a BMJ study finds.

Some 80 infants (aged 5-6 months) in the Netherlands with moderate-to-severe positional skull deformation were randomized to helmet therapy (23 hours/day until age 12 months) or to observation. At age 24 months, changes in anthropometric measurements of skull shape did not differ between the groups. A quarter of children in each group achieved full recovery.

All parents in the helmet group reported at least one side effect — most often infant skin irritation, unpleasant odor, and difficulty cuddling with their baby.

Noting the equal outcomes in the two groups, as well as the adverse effects and high costs associated with helmet therapy (approaching US$2000), the authors conclude: "We discourage the use of a helmet as a standard treatment for healthy infants with moderate to severe skull deformation."

Reader Comments (2)

JAVIER CERERO Physician, Pediatric Subspecialty

No one in clinical practice could ever agree with this conclusion unless the helmets were not well designed and fitted
Proper made helmets in proper hands definitively correct plagiocephalia and braquicephalia in 2-3 months which will never correct spontaneously or with position therapy alone
-and I do not have any conflict of interests
Any primary practice pediatrician can testify on this.

Mary Wyler, Physical Therapist Other Healthcare Professional, Pediatric Subspecialty, Easter Seals

I read the New York Times article about this study. Your summary fails to mention that the authors of the study did not discourage use of the helmet therapy for those infants with torticollis who are unable to turn their heads away from the plagiocephaly. In addition a large number of the study participants also reported that the helmets slid around on their baby's head suggesting that the helmets were not fitted properly and were thus doomed to failure. I think your summary should be more balanced in its conclusion.

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