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Craniotabes

  • Definition
    • Craniotabes is a softening of the skull bones.

  • Alternative Names
    • Congenital cranial osteoporosis

  • Causes
    • Craniotabes can be a normal finding in infants, especially premature infants. It may occur in up to one third of all newborn infants.

      Craniotabes is harmless in the newborn, unless it is associated with other problems. These can include rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones).

  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms include:

      • 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
  • Exams and Tests
    • The health care provider will press 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 if the problem is present.

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

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

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Complete healing is expected.

  • Possible Complications
    • There are no complications in most cases.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • This problem is most often found 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. Exceptions are when the condition 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: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 48.