Congenital cranial osteoporosis

Alternative names 
Craniotabes

Definition
Craniotabes is a softening of the skull bones.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Craniotabes can be a normal finding in infants, especially premature infants. Studies suggest it occurs in up to one third of all newborn infants. Typically craniotabes is demonstrated by pressing the bone along the suture line (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).

Craniotabes is a harmless finding in the newborn, unless it is associated with other problems, such as rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones).

Symptoms

     
  • soft areas of the skull, especially along the suture line which pop in and out like a squeezed Ping-Pong ball  
  • bones may feel soft and thin along the suture lines and flex very easily

Signs and tests
No testing is done unless osteogenesis imperfecta or rickets is suspected.

Treatment
Craniotabes, not associated with other conditions, should not be treated.

Expectations (prognosis)
Complete healing is expected.

Complications
There are usually no complications.

Calling your health care provider
This finding is usually discovered 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 (except when associated with rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta).

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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