More babies develop 'flat spots,' safe sleep still most important

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) New research shows nearly 50 percent of infants now develop flat spots on their heads.

"As those bones grow and the brain grows and develops, if the head is flat against a surface, if they're laying down or sitting in a car seat, for prolonged periods of time then the bones will kind of be flattened in the back of head," said East Tennessee Children's Dr. Mary Palmer.

The increase of flat spots follows an increase in the number of babies sleeping on their backs.

The "back to sleep" initiative begin in 1992, touting the importance of laying babies on their backs at night instead of their stomachs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or S.I.D.S.

"We're trying to decrease the rate of death from unsafe sleep practices within Tennessee. Given that we know our rate in Tennessee is one of the highest of unexpected sleep deaths in the United States. And most importantly in Knox County we're unfortunately one of the highest counties in Tennessee for this," said Palmer.

Because of that, doctors say sleeping on backs should be the priority. Flat spots often correct themselves.

Palmer says as babies get older, they'll start to move around more on their own. In the meantime, parents can encourage different positions with tummy time and lots of interactive cuddle time.

East Tennessee Children's encourages parents to remember the ABC's of Safe Sleep: Always alone, on your back and in a crib.

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