Introduction: Positional skull deformities (PSD) occur with supine positioning of infants. PSD have increased dramatically in incidence during the past 20 years, following the introduction of the "back to sleep program" for the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We sought to explore parental concerns about PSD and ascertain gaps in knowledge that could be addressed by improved educational efforts.
Methods: A 15 item written questionnaire was administered to convenience samples at 5 pediatric primary care (PCP) offices and one pediatric neurosurgical referral clinic during a 3 month study period.
Results: Response rates at the PCP offices were poor and precluded data analysis. A response rate of 82% (n=34) was achieved in the pediatric neurosurgery clinic to which infants were referred for PSD. As predicted, we discovered a high level of concern about PSD producing long-term impact on appearance (41%), skull growth (50%) and brain function (38%). The vast majority of parents expressed inadequate counseling about the prevention and management of PSD by their obstetricians (85%) and pediatric primary care providers (82%). Parents expressed significant lack of understanding about the etiologies and management of PSD, including the use of cranial orthoses. Respondents strongly requested more educational materials be made available, favoring electronic media.
Conclusions: Despite the small sample size and methodological limitations, this study strongly suggests the need for greater parental education about the etiology, prevention and management of PSD.
Patient Care: Identifying and addressing parental concerns and misperceptions about PSD may reduce stress and lead to more effective prevention and management strategies.
Learning Objectives: By the conclusion of the session, participants should be able to: 1) understand common parental concerns about PSD; 2) understand gaps in knowledge that should be addressed by the primary care community and specialists treating PSD.