A HUNTINGDON mum has ignored medical advice and has decided to use a helmet pioneered in America to treat her baby s flat head. Sophie Purnell, of Maple Drive, borrowed £1,850 from her family to pay for the helmet for her nine-month-old son Mason. He ha
A HUNTINGDON mum has ignored medical advice and has decided to use a helmet pioneered in America to treat her baby's flat head.
Sophie Purnell, of Maple Drive, borrowed £1,850 from her family to pay for the helmet for her nine-month-old son Mason.
He has plagiocephaly, when a baby's head is forced to grow in different directions because they are sleeping in a set position or because muscles attached to the skull are getting squashed or pulled flat.
Mrs Purnell said: "My little boy had a flat spot on his head when he was born, but he wasn't diagnosed with plagiocephaly until six weeks later at his check-up when the flat side had already formed on his head."
She was told by her doctor to move Mason's head slightly if he stayed in one position when asleep and not to worry about it.
When she did not notice any change, she booked another appointment with her doctor, who referred her to a consultant at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
She said: "The consultant told me to re-position Mason's head, which was annoying as I had already tried that and it didn't seem to work.
"I took his advice but when I started to notice Mason's ears were un-symmetrical I decided to do more."
After watching a TV programme on helmets made in America that are designed to mould a baby's head back into shape, she made a visit to a private clinic in London.
"I was told the treatment would cost £1,850 unless I could get a referral but I couldn't get one. I don't know what I would have done if my family hadn't have put forward the money," she said.
Mason has been wearing the helmet 23 hours a day for about eight weeks and Mrs Purnell said it had made a difference.
He will continue to wear it for the next three months.
Mrs Purnell said: "His head is much rounder. I put the change in the shape of his head down to the helmet.
"I'm not saying it will work for every baby but I truly believe it has worked for Mason.
"I didn't get help from the NHS but I want to let people who have been in my situation know that helmets do work, and then maybe it will change the mind of NHS workers and allow some people to get help with the cost of the treatment."
A spokesman for Great Ormond Street Hospital said: "There is no strong evidence to suggest that helmets solve plagiocephaly any better than re-positioning or just leaving it alone."
A plagiocephaly fact sheet on the Great Ormond Street Hospital website states: "The use of baby helmets remains controversial.
"Does a helmet add anything? The answer is that we do not know for sure."
INFORMATION: To find out more about plagiocephaly visit www.plagiocephalyuk.co.uk or www.ich.ucl.ac.uk