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Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the incidence of plagiocephaly; and what statistical correlation there is between that incidence and numbers of babies placed on their backs to sleep; (149954)

(2) how many cases of plagiocephaly were identified in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available;

(3) what treatment is available on the NHS for plagiocephaly; how many babies were treated for plagiocephaly in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

The Department has made no such assessment. Neither does it collect figures on the numbers of cases of plagiocephaly. However, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children has estimated that almost half of children develop positional plagiocephaly and that only a very small minority develop it in the womb. The rest develop positional plagiocephaly from spending a lot of time in one position, usually on their backs. Nevertheless, Doctors recommend that babies sleep on their backs in order to reduce the incidence of cot death.

There are several treatments for plagiocephaly available either on the national health service, or through parental intervention. However, since in the overwhelming majority of cases, the condition is self-correcting, many doctors do not deem additional treatment necessary.