Craniosynostosis Long Term Effects

Are there craniosynostosis long term effects?

Craniosynostosis is a birth deformity in which one or several fibrous joints between the cranial sutures of the skull close permanently before the brain of your baby is fully developed. This doesn't mean brain development stops. In fact, it continues, but this gives the head a somewhat misshapen look. So, are there craniosynostosis long term effects? Continue reading to learn more.

Usually, the sutures close after many years. But, in this condition, they close early, either in the womb or shortly following birth. This causes your child to experience problems with skull growth.

In most cases, this condition usually involves the fusion of one cranial suture (primary or single craniosynostosis), but the fusion can also affect more than one suture (complex or compound craniosynostosis). Complex ones may also show other body deformities. Craniosynostosis can be caused by a certain genetic syndrome known as syndromic craniosynostosis, however, this is rare.

Craniosynostosis occurs in about one in every 2,500 births and males are affected more than females. In some cases, the condition occurs due to family history as it can be inherited by passing on certain genes associated with this defect.

Types of Craniosynostosis

There are different types of craniosynostosis, and they're usually named depending on the shape of the head and the type of suture that was affected.

Coronal synostosis is medically known as plagiocephaly (crooked head). In this type, the fusion occurs either on the left, right or both sides of the suture that runs from one ear to the other ear. Children with this type usually have a flat forehead with a brow and an overgrowth on the sides of the head. The eye of the affected side always seem to have a different shape, too. In some cases, both sides can be affected, making the forehead to appear tall and wide.

Metopic synostosis is the fusion that affects the suture that runs from the top of the head to the middle of the forehead. This suture is the only one that should close before the brain completely grows, but it closes early, too. In this case, the child usually has a raised ridge running down the forehead. In severe cases, the head is usually pointed or looks like a triangle from above.

Sagittal synostosis affects the suture running front to back and down the middle part of the head's top. Children with this craniosynostosis usually have a narrow skull, and it's the most common type affecting many children. The skull usually does not grow sideways. Instead, it overgrows front to back.

Long Term Effects

So, what are the craniosynostosis long term effects? Researchers have found that children with simple craniosynostosis tend to have high learning disabilities and this is seen in their academic performance. They also have cognitive problems. This happens because the condition affects the neurological development of the children.

If untreated, the children usually have a permanent facial and head deformity, and this gives them poor self-esteem. You'll occasionally see them isolating themselves from other kids.

Surgery can help children with simple craniosynostosis since the risk of intracranial pressure is small. So it's highly likely that the shape of the head can be fixed.

However, this is different in children with complex craniosynostosis as the intracranial pressure in the skull is usually high. If untreated, the increased pressure can lead to development delays, cognitive impairment, blindness, seizures, eye movement disorders, lack of energy, and in some rare cases, death.

Treatment for craniosynostosis

In most cases, you can prevent your child from experiencing the long-term effects of craniosynostosis by taking them for a surgical operation. There are different surgeries that the doctor may use to address the condition.

Some mild cases may not require treatment, and the doctor may recommend a specially made helmet to help reshape your child's head if the sutures are still open, but the head's shape is abnormal. The helmet can help to ensure brain growth and correct skull shape development.

For some cases, surgery is the best approach. Endoscopic surgery may be performed on babies that are up to 6 months old and have single-suture craniosynostosis. Those who are six months old and above undergo the open surgery.

Craniosynostosis long term effects can be avoided if parents seek treatment for their baby as early as possible. If left untreated, these children tend to suffer isolation, and this affects their social life and academic performance.

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Last Reviewed:
August 15, 2017
Last Updated:
October 20, 2017