Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Attack Of The Flat-Heads?


Carefully, warefully
Parents of neonates
Watched how their babies took
Naps in their bed;

Led to an increase in
Plagiocephaly:
Flat-headed babies are
Better than dead.


I found this report (and the reactions to it) very interesting, in part because I just absolutely love babies.  I'm one of the folks who rejects the notion of a platonic ideal baby ("nobody's perfect" implies an ideal perfection that we all fall short of) in favor of a wide variety, a population of equally perfect babies.  Round-headed, flat-headed, pointy-headed, it's rarely "a face only a mother could love", cos I love it too.

So this story, on an increase in reports of plagiocephaly (flat-headedness) in babies caught my attention, in part because of all the concerned parents who want perfect round-headed babies.  (This is, as I am given to understand, very much a cultural thing, and not every culture thinks round heads are adorable.)  Some are "blaming" the "Back to Sleep" program, which combats Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or "cot death" or "crib death") by warning parents to make sure their babies sleep on their backs; the actual report in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine suggests that differences in reporting may be as much or more responsible (in part due to insurance coverage changes).  

Looking back on my childhood pictures, my own skull was a lopsided potato--it pretty much still is, and it is who I am.  I have yet to see a baby whose head I reel from in horror.  Given the plasticity of the brain, I have serious doubts whether head shape is anything more (absent extreme cases) than a matter of aesthetics.  Variety being the spice of life, I welcome our new flat-headed future overlords.

8 comments:

Kahomono said...

Hooray for Double Dactyls!

Giliell said...

Nahhh, freshly new-borns are pretty ugly, usually a light-purple hue and smeary and bloody. Yuck.
Except of course for mine, they WERE perfect even then.
Once they're washed and dried and had a chance to stop that nasty crying, they're all equally near perfect. ;o)

Melissa said...

I finally found a subject on which we disagree. I'm not a baby person. I think they're all icky, regardless of cranium shape. Once the kid reaches about two and can take care of most basic functions on his/her own, then, the kid might be cute. If it's not screaming for toys.

Puppies are much cuter. And smarter.

marschif said...

Wouldn't there be an advantage in being able to place a flat-headed baby on a bench and knowing that it's not going to roll off?

Cuttlefish said...

Trust me, marschif, a flat head won't stop an active baby from rolling! One learns quickly to always keep a hand on the baby (on, for instance, a changing table) if you have to look away, even for an instant!

Tor Bertin said...

I have to admit, by the title I assumed you were talking about flat-headed cats...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat-headed_Cat

Blotz said...

I adore infants... now that my youngest is in his terrible 2's I look wistfully toward mothers with their newborns...

Is the round head thing a product of so many c-sections in the USA?

MaryLynne said...

Weren't there Native cultures that strapped the babies to boards so their heads would be flat and attractive? I was telling my daughters the other day how acceptance of body hair appropriate eye contact is cultural. Amazing when you think about it how much we accept as natural or right is cultural indoctrination.