Symptoms of Infant Torticollis

When your baby has torticollis, they were probably born with it (congenital torticollis). If that’s the case, it’s usually due to the way your baby was positioned in utero. In some cases, infants develop torticollis after birth (acquired torticollis, which is normally caused by some kind of trauma or infection), but most cases can be traced back to birth. Understanding the symptoms of torticollis, congenital or acquired, will help you understand how to help your baby. (https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/intermountain-moms/2017/11/infant-torticollis/)

Congenital torticollis

Although your baby may have been born with torticollis, you may not notice any signs or symptoms until your baby’s between 6-8 weeks old. This is why we strongly recommend scheduling a consultation in our practice and having your child evaluated for Torticollis or Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome). (https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/intermountain-moms/2017/11/infant-torticollis/)

Most often, torticollis is cause due to trauma during birth or what we call “Traumatic Birth”. Prolong birth, Forceps delivery, Vacuum delivery or even C-section delivery is considered Traumatic Birth. Also, Torticollis could be caused by in utero position (position in the uterus). Positions like Breach, transverse or posterior could contribute to torticollis or Plagiocephaly condition.

Common symptoms:

  • Head tilts or rotates to one side
  • Limited range of motion in head and neck
  • Asymmetry in your baby’s head and face (flattening on one side of the head)
  • Breastfed babies may prefer one side over the other
  • Musculoskeletal problems may be present (hip dysplasia)
  • A small, soft lump in your infant’s neck
  • The most commonly noticed symptom is Plagiocephaly, or a flat spot appearing behind one ear and on the side the child likes to look toward

Recent studies regarding the use of helmet to improve a flat head syndrome did not show any significant benefits of using the helmet compared to non-invasive methods.

Torticollis/ (Flat head syndrome) Plagiocephaly / Helmet

 “In addition, it is important to monitor head shape closely until there is confidence that improvement will continue, usually when the infant is old enough to sit, crawl, and spend less time on his or her back and until any associated torticollis is completely corrected. The prevalence of positional skull deformity generally peaks at 4 months and will begin to show significant improvement by 6 months of age.16,31,,33

“There is currently no evidence that molding helmets work any better than positioning for infants with mild or moderate skull deformity. Because more than half of the infants will improve by 6 months of age, repositioning should be attempted as the initial treatment for infants younger than 6 months. In most situations, an improvement in response to repositioning and neck exercise is seen over a 2- to 3-month period if these measures are instituted as soon as the condition is recognized.”

(https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/6/1236)