When 15 month old Ariel was two months old, her mom, Starr Buchetich noticed her head didn't look quite like her twin sister Pandora.
"We first realized there was a problem when her neck was laying to the side and she couldn't really straighten it out," said Buchetich.
Buchetich took Ariel to Pediatrician Daunne Peters and was told her baby had "Flat Head Syndrome," which can occur when babies spend too much time on their back. Dr. Peters said she's been seeing more infants with the syndrome because parents are more aware of it and know they need to seek advice. A new study from the journal Pediatrics shows about 47% of infants have it. But Dr. Peters said it can be corrected.
"We encourage the parents to rotate how the baby lays in the crib on its head so that not just one particular area gets too flat," said the pediatrician.
In Ariel's case, she had little improvement so a specialist recommended a helmet to reshape her head in hopes of avoiding a mild developmental delay. The second option was surgery.
"That was absolutely the scariest thing because your child's skull would be essentially broken open and cracked and bent and reformed," said Buchetich.
Ariel had to spend a total of five months with two different helmets because she was taken out of the first one too early but now things have turned around.
Ariel's mom said, "We were so relieved that when she's a teenager she's going to be able to wear sunglasses, her head is perfectly even, perfectly shaped."
Now Buchetich is using her experience to educate other moms and dads about the syndrome.
Doctors also recommend babies to have plenty of "tummy time" when they're awake and advise parents to keep little ones out of car seats, carriers and bouncers for long periods of time.