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Craniotabes

Craniotabes is a softening of the skull bones.

Alternative Names

Congenital cranial osteoporosis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Craniotabes can be a normal finding in infants, especially premature infants. Studies suggest it occurs in up to one third of all newborn infants.

Craniotabes is a harmless finding in the newborn, unless it is associated with other problems, such as rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones).

Symptoms

  • Soft areas of the skull, especially along the suture line
  • Soft areas pop in and out
  • Bones may feel soft, flexible, and thin along the suture lines

Signs and tests

Typically craniotabes is demonstrated by pressing the bone along the area where the bones of the skull come together. The bone often pops in and out, similar to pressing on a Ping-Pong ball.

No testing is done unless osteogenesis imperfecta or rickets is suspected.

Treatment

Craniotabes that are not associated with other conditions are not treated.

Expectations (prognosis)

Complete healing is expected.

Complications

There are usually no complications.

Calling your health care provider

This finding is usually discovered when the baby is examined during a well-baby check . Call your health care provider if you notice that your child has signs of craniotabes (to rule out other problems).

Prevention

Most of the time, craniotabes is not preventable (except when associated with rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta).

References

Greenbaum, L. Rickets and Hypervitaminosis D. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 48.

Updated: 2/21/2013

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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