Infant Torticollis is the shortening of the anterior neck muscle on one side of the neck that can cause a baby to have an asymmetrical head shape. Parents notice that the baby appears to be having difficulty turning the head to one side and a flattened section on the back of the skull
If left untreated, the baby can have permanent restriction in neck movement and can develop asymmetry of the face and jaw.
Infant torticollis can occur as a result of:
Head shape issues have also become more common because people are encouraged to sleep babies on their backs to reduce risk of SIDS. While this is the safest sleeping option, babies sometimes develop a degee of flatness on the back of their head as a result.
Early intervention is essential. Management includes instructing parents on specific sustained positioning techniques and stretches to incoorporate into the baby's feed/play/sleep cycle . The treatment is not painful and usually only requires 2-3 physiotherapy sessions. Improvements in head and neck movement are usually within 7-10 days of commencing the positioning techniques. The head shape changes more slowly over a period of months and seems to time in with baby growth spurts . Surgical intervention is uncommon and only required in severe cases.