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Craniosynostosis

By Simeon A. Boyadjiev Boyd, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics, Section of Genetics, Department of Genetics, University of California, Davis

Craniosynostosis is premature closing of one or more of the skull's sutures.

Sutures of the Skull

The sutures are bands of tissue that connect the bones of the skull. The sutures allow the skull to grow as the brain grows inside.

The sutures are bands of tissue that connect the bones of the skull. The sutures allow the skull to grow as the brain grows inside. They remain flexible for several years after birth and close and harden as the baby grows. After the sutures close, the skull cannot grow any more.

Craniosynostosis results when these sutures close too early, which restricts the ability of the skull to grow to a normal shape and size. There are several types of craniosynostosis, depending on which suture is closed.

Craniosynostosis of the sagittal suture (the suture behind the baby's fontanelle or soft spot) is the most common. This type of craniosynostosis results in a narrow and long skull (dolichocephaly). About half of children who have this type of craniosynostosis develop learning disabilities.

Craniosynostosis of the coronal sutures (the sutures to the left and right of the soft spot) is the next most common. This type of craniosynostosis results in a short and broad skull if the sutures on both sides of the soft spot are closed or in a diagonal skull if the sutures on only one side of the soft spot are closed. Children who have this type of craniosynostosis often have other defects of the face and skull.

Craniosynostoses are corrected with surgery.

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