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NINDS Craniosynostosis Information Page


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What is Craniosynostosis?

Craniosynostosis is a birth defect of the brain characterized by the premature closure of one or more of the fibrous joints between the bones of the skull (called the cranial sutures) before brain growth is complete. Closure of a single suture is most common. In contrast to normal skull growth, in which the skull expands uniformly to accommodate the growth of the brain, premature closure of a single suture restricts the growth in that part of the skull and promotes growth in other parts of the skull where sutures remain open. This results in an abnormal shape of the skull, but does not prevent the brain from expanding to a normal volume. However, when many sutures close prematurely, the skull cannot expand to accommodate the growing brain, which leads to increased pressure within the skull and impaired development of the brain. Craniosynostosis can be gene-linked, or caused by metabolic diseases, such as rickets or an overactive thyroid. Some cases are associated with other disorders such as microcephaly (abnormally small head) and hydrocephalus (excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain). The first sign of craniosynostosis is an abnormally shaped skull. Other features can include signs of increased intracranial pressure, developmental delays, or mental retardation, which are caused by constriction of the growing brain. Seizures and blindness may also occur.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment for craniosynostosis generally consists of surgery to improve the symmetry and appearance of the head and to relieve pressure on the brain and the cranial nerves. For some children with less severe problems, cranial molds can reshape the skull to accommodate brain growth and improve the appearance of the head.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for craniosynostosis varies depending on whether single or multiple cranial sutures are involved or other abnormalities are present. The prognosis is better for those with single suture involvement and no associated abnormalities.

What research is being done?

The NINDS conducts and supports a wide range of studies that explore the complex mechanisms of early neurological development. The knowledge gained from these fundamental studies provides the foundation for understanding how this process can go awry and offers hope for new ways to treat and prevent brain birth defects, including craniosynostosis.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Craniosynostosis Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
March of Dimes
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY   10605
askus@marchofdimes.com
http://www.marchofdimes.com
Tel: 914-997-4488 888-MODIMES (663-4637)
Fax: 914-428-8203

Children's Craniofacial Association
13140 Coit Road
Suite 517
Dallas, TX   75240
contactCCA@ccakids.com
http://www.ccakids.com
Tel: 800-535-3643 214-570-9099
Fax: 214-570-8811

The Arc of the United States
1825 K Street, NW
Suite 1200
Washington, DC   20006
Info@thearc.org
http://www.thearc.org
Tel: 202-534-3700 800-433-5255
Fax: 202-534-3731

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291



Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated September 16, 2011