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Newborn head molding

Newborn cranial deformation; Molding of the newborn's head; Neonatal care - head molding

 

Newborn head molding is an abnormal head shape that results from pressure on the baby's head during childbirth.

Information

 

The bones of a newborn baby's skull are soft and flexible, with gaps between the plates of bone.

The spaces between the bony plates of the skull are called cranial sutures. The front (anterior) and back (posterior) fontanelles are 2 gaps that are particularly large. These are the soft spots you can feel when you touch the top of your baby's head.

When a baby is born in a head-first position, pressure on the head in the birth canal may mold the head into an oblong shape. These spaces between the bones allow the baby's head to change shape. Depending on the amount and length of pressure, the skull bones may even overlap.

These spaces also allow the brain to grow inside the skull bones. They will close as the brain reaches its full size.

Fluid may also collect in the baby's scalp (caput succedaneum), or blood may collect beneath the scalp (cephalohematoma). This may further distort the shape and appearance of the baby's head. Fluid and blood collection in and around the scalp is common during delivery. It will most often go away in a few days.

If your baby is born breech (buttocks or feet first) or by Cesarean delivery, the head is most often round. Very severe abnormalities in head size are NOT related to molding.

Related topics include:

  • Craniosynostosis
  • Macrocephaly (abnormally large head size)
  • Microcephaly (abnormally small head size)

 

 

References

Graham JM, Sanchez-Lara P. Vertex birth molding. In: Graham JM, Sanchez-Lara PA, eds. Smiths' Recognizable Patterns of Human Deformation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 35.

Smith J. Initial evaluation. In: Gleason CA, Devaskar SU, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 25.

 
  • Skull of a newborn

    Skull of a newborn - illustration

    The "sutures" or anatomical lines where the bony plates of the skull join together can be easily felt in the newborn infant. The diamond shaped space on the top of the skull and the smaller space further to the back are often referred to as the "soft spot" in young infants.

    Skull of a newborn

    illustration

  • Fetal head molding

    Fetal head molding - illustration

    During a head first birth, pressure on the head caused by the tight birth canal may "mold" the head into an oblong rather than round shape. This is a common occurrence that usually disappears after a few days.

    Fetal head molding

    illustration

  • Newborn head molding

    Newborn head molding - illustration

    During a head first birth, pressure on the head caused by the tight birth canal may 'mold' the head into an oblong rather than round shape. Newborn head molding is a common occurrence that usually disappears after a few days.

    Newborn head molding

    illustration

    • Skull of a newborn

      Skull of a newborn - illustration

      The "sutures" or anatomical lines where the bony plates of the skull join together can be easily felt in the newborn infant. The diamond shaped space on the top of the skull and the smaller space further to the back are often referred to as the "soft spot" in young infants.

      Skull of a newborn

      illustration

    • Fetal head molding

      Fetal head molding - illustration

      During a head first birth, pressure on the head caused by the tight birth canal may "mold" the head into an oblong rather than round shape. This is a common occurrence that usually disappears after a few days.

      Fetal head molding

      illustration

    • Newborn head molding

      Newborn head molding - illustration

      During a head first birth, pressure on the head caused by the tight birth canal may 'mold' the head into an oblong rather than round shape. Newborn head molding is a common occurrence that usually disappears after a few days.

      Newborn head molding

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Newborn head molding

           

             

            Review Date: 11/19/2015

            Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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