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Learning About Craniosynostosis in Newborns

Bony plates in the skull of a newborn

What is craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis (say "kray-nee-oh-sih-noss-TOH-sus") is a problem with the skull. The soft areas between the plates of the baby's skull are called sutures. The sutures usually start to fuse together after a child is 2 years of age. With craniosynostosis, one or more of the sutures fuses too soon. This can keep the skull from expanding as the baby grows. In severe cases, it can cause pressure on the brain.

This is a congenital condition. This means your baby was born with it.

If there's a lot of pressure on your baby's brain, surgery may be needed right away to relieve the pressure. Your child will be asleep during surgery.

Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. But the hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

What can you expect?

  • You may see tubes and wires attached to your baby. This can be scary to see. But these things help the doctor treat your baby. The tubes supply air, fluid, and medicines to your baby. The wires are attached to machines that help the doctor keep track of your baby's vital signs. These include temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate.
  • If your baby has trouble breathing, the doctor may use a ventilator. This machine helps your baby breathe. To do this, the doctor puts a soft tube through your baby's mouth into the windpipe.
  • The hospital staff will give your baby the nutrition he or she needs. The doctor may feed your baby through a soft tube that goes through the nose and into the stomach. Or the doctor may use an IV that goes through the belly button to do this.
  • Your baby will be kept comfortable and warm.
  • It may seem that your baby is getting lots of tests. All of these tests help your doctor keep track of your baby's condition and give the best treatment possible.
  • It's hard to be apart from your baby, especially when you worry about his or her condition. Know that the hospital staff is well prepared to care for babies with this condition. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, get support from friends and family. Ask the hospital staff about counselling and support.

Where can you learn more?

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