SEATTLE (CBS SEATTLE) — A new study finds that 47 percent of newborn babies have flat spots on their heads.

Diagnosed as “positional plagiocephaly” in the medical world, a Canadian study from Pediatrics says the high percentage may be the result of the 1992 AAP recommendation to place infants on their backs when they sleep to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

The bones of newborns are soft and if they tend to lie in the same position all the time, the bones can flatten in the skull on whatever side is most frequently in contact with surfaces.

According to CBS News, out of the 440 infants between seven to 12 weeks of age examined by researchers, 46.6 percent had a flat spot on their head. As a whole, 78.3 percent had a mild form of “positional plagiocephaly.”

“That was pretty surprising. I didn’t anticipate that it would be that high,” study author Aliyah Mawji, assistant professor at the School of Nursing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, told the CBC.

Of the babies found to exhibit flat head syndrome, the study found that 78 percent had a mild form, while 19 percent of cases were classified as moderate and the remaining 3 percent were severe.

The American Academy of Neurological Surgeons recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep, but also change the child’s direction and the location of the crib occasionally. Also, the academy said to avoid keeping children in car seats, carriers and bouncers unsupervised or for an extended period of time.

“If the baby is constantly placed in the same position, so either the same feeding position or the same sleeping position or being left in car seats or bouncy swings, we see more of what we call the positional plagiocephaly,” Mawji explained.

Prior studies suggested that anywhere from 3 percent to 61 percent of babies have a flat spot on their head, Mawji and her colleagues noted.

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