Couples expecting a child imagine a perfect bundle of joy. Unfortunately, not all babies are born "perfect." Some babies are born with a rare disorder known as craniosynostosis.
The brain of an infant needs ample space to grow and develop. The skull consists of several free-floating plates at birth to help allow for the growth of the brain. The plates will fuse together over time. If one or more plates fuses early, then craniosynostosis occurs. Understanding more about this condition will help you prepare for the possibility that your child could be affected by craniosynostosis after birth.
How Is Craniosynostosis Diagnosed?
Most infants who suffer from craniosynostosis are diagnosed relatively early. You will probably notice that your baby's head begins to look misshapen after a few months. The irregularities in head shape occur when the fused plates restrict proper growth and development.
A doctor can confirm the diagnosis with an X-ray or CT scan that will evaluate the density and thickness of your baby's skull.
Can Craniosynostosis Be Treated?
It is possible for an experienced doctor to treat craniosynostosis, but the only treatment option currently available is surgery. The type of surgery that a child suffering from craniosynostosis will need to undergo depends entirely on the location of the prematurely fused skull plates.
Some cases can be treated endoscopically. This is a minimally invasive surgery that is not as traumatic for the infant. More severe cases of craniosynostosis will require reshaping of the skull plates, which is an intensive and risky procedure. You can discuss your child's treatment options with a specialist to determine how invasive treatment will be.
Does Craniosynostosis Have a Lasting Effect?
Surgeons can reshape the skull to allow for brain growth, but there could be some lasting side effects caused by craniosynostosis. Your child will need ongoing medical checkups to monitor the growth of the skull and facial bones for abnormalities.
It is also possible for a child to experience minor brain damage if the craniosynostosis is not treated early enough. The pressure placed on the brain by the fused plates can lead to learning disabilities and other impairments that will have an effect on your child's future.
Your doctor can check for developmental delays as your baby grows and help you find ways to manage these delays in a healthy and constructive manner.
A craniosynostosis diagnosis doesn't have to be intimidating. Work with your child's doctors to ensure that proper treatment and ongoing care is provided to minimize the negative effect the condition could have on your child over time.