Parents spend 2,000 on special helmet to cure their baby of flat-head syndrome, as NHS refuse to fund it
18:27 GMT, 30 November 2012
It's a controversial subject that divides parents, but one couple insist that putting a helmet on their baby son for 166 days has cured him of flat head syndrome.
Coby Donnison was diagnosed with plagiocephaly and brachycephaly – a form of flat head syndrome – when he was six months old.
The condition is caused when babies sleep on their back every night leading to the soft skull becoming flattened. His parents Andria, 29 and John, 25, feared that without treatment, the one-year-old's jaw and ear alignment could have been affected, leaving him unable to wear glasses or a bicycle helmet later in life.
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Coby's family bought him a 2,000 helmet (left) after they said other techniques failed to correct his misshapen skull (right) known as flat head syndrome
NHS ADVICE ON HELMETS: CONSIDER THE DOWNSIDES
The NHS says the use of custom-made helmets is controversial. It says there is not enough evidence to say if they improve the baby's head any more than if taking other measures such as giving your baby extra tummy head.
It tells parents to consider that:
A cranial orthosis is expensive, costing about 1,700–2,500. The device usually needs to be worn for up to 23 hours a day, for 6–24 weeks. Your baby will need to be reviewed every six weeks to check the
device is allowing and not restricting head growth, and for any
necessary adjustments to be made. Your baby may find the device uncomfortable, and there's a risk of it causing pressure sores on their head.
Source: NHS sources
Coby's family bought him a special
2,000 helmet, with the help of locals in Bridlington, East Yorkshire,
to try and correct his condition. They are not available on the NHS as it says there is not enough evidence to show it works any better than alternative free techniques.
Mrs Donnison said she was pleased with her decision: 'It's amazing to
see how quickly the shape of Coby's head has changed so quickly by using
something so simple as a helmet,' she said.
had visions of him being like that for life or having to have some kind
of surgery – it was such a relief when we found out there was something
that could help him. It was totally worth all the hard work and raising
When Coby was around 10 weeks old his family noticed a slight flattening to the left side of his head.
At the time the health visitor said it was temporary and he would grow out of it as he grew older or his hair would cover it.
Mrs Donnison said: 'From about two
months old, I noticed Coby's head wasn't right.
'The health visitor
told us it was normal for babies heads to be reshaped and that it was
sort itself out.
'She suggested trying to get him to lie on his tummy
more so that he wasn't putting pressure on the back of his head but it
just didn't work.'
As the weeks went on the flattening seemed to be
getting worse, and the family were shocked there was no treatment for
the condition available on the NHS.
Andria said: 'People would look down at him and you could tell they were looking at his head and wondering what was wrong with him.'
The special helmet encourage Coby not to sleep in one fixed position
Thrilled: John (left) and Andria with their son Coby who developed a flat head when he was six months old
Coby's grandmother, Carol Bacon, researched the condition and discovered a company who made plagiocephaly helmets to correct the shape of the head.
Mr Donnison took Coby To Technology In Motion for a consultation, who told him his son had a severe form of the condition.
The family raised 2,000 for the helmet and ordered Coby's helmet which was fitted in April.
Mrs Donnison said: 'He got used to wearing the helmet in just four days.
'We put him in it for short stints so he got used to it but he was soon wearing it to bed and looked quite chuffed when he knew it was time to put it on.
'Everyone said he looked like a super hero. Soon he went from being the child that everyone looked at because there was something wrong with him, to the one that other children envied because he had such a cool helmet.'
The helmet, which could be adjusted, meant that any further growth of his head moulded into the empty space and gave him a more oval shaped head.
Coby's first follow up appointment showed a 4mm improvement and one month after the fitting there was a big visible improvement.
In total Coby had to wear the helmet for 166 days and was 11 months old when his treatment finished.
Andria said: 'It was amazing to see something that worked so well. No-one would ever guess his head was anything other than the shape it is now, it's incredible.
'Other mums are now coming to me and asking what they can do for their children. I never thought I'd be in the position where I could be helping other people because my little boy had been cured.'
VIDEO: Physician's update on Plagiocephaly (Flat Head Syndrome)