A baby boy born with “ᴡᴏɴᴋʏ ᴇᴀʀs” is wᴇᴀʀing a special helmet for 23 hours a day to help straighten them up. Little Sebby Burian puzzled his parents when they realised one ᴇᴀʀ was much higher than the other. Dᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs realised the six-month-old’s sᴋᴜʟʟ was not the right shape and diagnosed sᴇᴠᴇʀᴇ ᴅᴇꜰᴏʀᴍᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ ᴘʟᴀɢɪᴏᴄᴇᴘʜᴀʟʏ – often called ꜰʟᴀᴛ ʜᴇᴀᴅ sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ.
When he was two months old, David and Eva noticed something was wrong with their baby son Sebby. The parents saw that Sebby’s ʜᴇᴀᴅ ᴡᴀs ꜰʟᴀᴛᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ at the back on one side, causing his foreʜᴇᴀᴅ to move forward and his ᴇᴀʀs to be unaligned. Two-month-old Sebby was soon diagnosed with sᴇᴠᴇʀᴇ ᴅᴇꜰᴏʀᴍᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ ᴘʟᴀɢɪᴏᴄᴇᴘʜᴀʟʏ – also known as ꜰʟᴀᴛ ʜᴇᴀᴅ sʏɴᴅʀᴏᴍᴇ – a condition that affects around one in five babies. The condition, in most cases, is not considered by the N.H.S as a major cause for concern as it doesn’t have any effect on the ʙʀᴀɪɴ and the ʜᴇᴀᴅ sʜᴀᴘᴇ and will often improve by itself over time.
However, as their baby grew and the condition became more visible, David, 38, and Eva, 40, became increasingly ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴᴇᴅ about the psychological effects it would have on Sebby in later life. The ᴘʀɪᴍᴀʀʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ for the condition, which is not currently offered on the N.H.S, is for the child to wᴇᴀʀ a specially designed helmet to mould the shape of his sᴋᴜʟʟ. The family have decided to seek private ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ at a clinic in Bʀɪsᴛᴏʟ, where Sebby – who is now almost seven months old – was measured for a helmet which he now wᴇᴀʀs 23 hours each day. The ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ, which has just started and costs around £2,500, can take anything from two to five months. An initial assessment at the clinic showed Sebby’s condition to be in the ‘red zone’, meaning his condition is fairly severe.
David said: “We’re responsible parents and don’t feel that the right thing is to ‘wait and see’ as we already know in our case, yes, it will improve by a bit but still remains in the ʀᴇᴅ ᴢᴏɴᴇ which is not reversible and stays visible for the rest of our life. That could have a huge psychological impact on quality of the life. That while the family are aware that wᴇᴀʀing the helmet will not completely resolve the condition, they are hopeful it will make a big improvement. We’ve already got the helmet and he’s wᴇᴀʀing it every day, we got it last yᴇᴀʀ and visited the technician in Bʀɪsᴛᴏʟ just before Christmas – there had been a slight improvement already so we need to get it adjusted. ”
The helmet needs to be adjusted every fortnight in line with the changing shape of Sebby’s sᴋᴜʟʟ. David said that he was told it was best for younger babies to undergo this ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ as their sᴋᴜʟʟs are most malleable up until they are 9 months old. And despite wᴇᴀʀing the helmet almost constantly, David said Sebby has embraced it. He has quite long hair at the moment so sometimes it can get quite sweaty and we have to remove it alot, but he wᴇᴀʀs it most of the day.
Every day is a different day but for example we obviously have to remove it when he is having a bath and when his hair is drying out. At the beginning he was completely okay but as he is growing and at nᴇᴀʀly seven months old he is just more aware of his surroundings and more aware of the helmet. For example, sometimes when we play he might touch and scratch the helmet instead of his ʜᴇᴀᴅ, he can sometimes become quite ᴘᴀɴɪᴄᴋᴇᴅ or be a little bit ɴᴇʀᴠᴏᴜs about it so we remove it for a bit and then put it back. But ideally it needs to be on all the time because by the time you are around 9 months old the sᴋᴜʟʟ is becoming stronger and more difficult to mold and get the best results of the helmet. There are some good and bad days but more often than not there are no problems.
David said that as well as the sᴛʀᴇss of ᴘʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴄʏ and ʙɪʀᴛʜ ᴅᴜʀɪɴɢ the ᴘᴀɴᴅᴇᴍɪᴄ, the family have now undergone the financial sᴛʀᴇss of paying for the helmet. My wife was back and forth on the phone but Dᴏᴄᴛᴏʀs said it was ‘not too bad’ and because it is considered cosmetic it would not do anything. The consultation in Bʀɪsᴛᴏʟ was free so we thought we have got nothing to ʟᴏsᴇ. It was a really hard time, the helmet is expensive but we feel he needs it. It has caused a lot of sᴛʀᴀɪɴ on us. We were told if we didn’t do something soon it would be too late. And it’s not just the shape of the ʜᴇᴀᴅ and how it looks, but it’s everything like wᴇᴀʀing glasses, or putting on a hat, it would be off balance.
The family have been told that the ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ could last between two and five months depending on the child’s reaction. After this, the child would outgrow the designated helmet and would need a new one. David and Eva have now set up a fundraising page to continue with Sebby’s ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ said: The unprecedented times have a massive impact on most of us.