(HealthDay News) — Allowing skull deformation to follow its natural course in healthy infants appears to be as effective as helmet therapy, according to research published in online May 1 in BMJ.

Renske M. van Wijk, of the University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands, and colleagues randomly assigned infants with moderate-to-severe positional skull deformation to helmet therapy (42 infants) or the natural course of the condition (42 patients) for six months.

The researchers found that the change scores were comparable in the helmet therapy and natural course groups for both plagiocephaly (mean difference, −0.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.6–1.2; P=0.80) and brachycephaly (mean difference, 0.2; 95% CI, −1.7–2.2; P=0.81). Full recovery occurred in 26% of participants in the helmet therapy group and 23% of those in the natural course group (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.4–3.3; P=0.74). All parents reported at least one side effect.

“The longer term implications of persistent positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly remain to be shown,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial. “However, this finding argues for studies focusing on primary prevention of the condition and novel strategies to ameliorate skull deformation once it develops in early infancy.”

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