For one baby, a regular two-month checkup led to a surprising diagnosis: his skull bones had fused, which left not enough room for his brain to grow.
Matthew Boler’s mother, Megan, noticed that the shape of her baby’s head was unusual, though he was a happy, easygoing little boy, she wrote in a blog post for the Texas Children’s Hospital.
The infant’s head was long and skinny, with a deep furrow in his brow. In contrast, his big sister, Madeline, had a large and round head as a newborn, which is also a distinct family trait.
1. For baby Matthew Boler (pictured), a regular two-month checkup led to a surprising diagnosis: his skull bones had fused, which left not enough room for his brain to grow (photo: Megan Boler).
Megan told ABC News:
We definitely thought it looked a little unusual. We thought maybe he has an unusual-shaped head. We didn’t think about any of the ramifications.
When they went for Matthew’s two-month checkup at Texas Children’s, the doctor couldn’t feel a soft spot on the top of the infant’s head.
Matthew’s skull bones had fused prematurely — a condition which is called craniosynostosis. Typically, a baby’s skull has numerous sutures which are open at birth. That creates a soft spot on the head, which provides room for the brain to expand and grow.
2. The baby underwent surgery, which opened a new large soft spot on his skull and gave room for his head to expand sideways. Over the course of the next four months, Matthew wore a helmet for 23 hours a day (photo: Megan Boler).
The pediatrician told the parent:
Don’t take this lightly. I want to refer you to the neurosurgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Sandi Lam, Director of Craniofacial Surgery Program at the hospital explained:
His brain was growing underneath but the skull doesn’t allow for it because of the way it’s fused. There’s no medicine that will unfuse the bone, the treatment is surgery and basically we have to cut out the bad bone.
Lam added that it’s important to diagnose the condition early because otherwise high pressure can build up in the skull, which can be dangerous. In rare cases that can lead to developmental delays because the brain cannot grow properly.
3. Matthew, who will celebrate his first birthday on July 16, has recovered successfully but will have annual checkups with the hospital’s craniofacial team (photo: Megan Boler).
Ten days later, the baby underwent surgery during which the doctors removed the section of bone along the skull’s sagittal suture, which opened a new large soft spot and gave room for his head to expand sideways.
Over the course of the next four months, baby Matthew wore a helmet for 23 hours a day.
Immediately after the surgery, Matthew was swollen and unrecognizable, but four days later his head shape had already changed significantly and for the better, his mother wrote in her blog post.
Matthew, who will celebrate his first birthday on July 16, has recovered successfully but will have annual checkups with the hospital’s craniofacial team. His mother wrote:
His head looks amazing and scars are barely visible.
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