Costs of flat head syndrome diagnosis and treatment

December 4, 2018

The cost of detecting and treating flat head syndrome can easily be estimated as hundreds of million every year. There are 4M births per year in the US [1]. Almost half of newborns demonstrate some degree of flat head in the first few weeks [2], Lets say half of them do an extra visit with their pediatrician for this concern (~$150/visit). An estimated 20% still have it at 4 months of age [3] and if they are referred to pediatric neurosurgeons or physical therapists, this causes additional $250/ neurosurgeon visit, and $150/ avoidable PT visit. An estimated 1-3% go through helmet therapy, $2-5k. Hence the total cost is [$150*0.25 + ($250+$150)*0.10 +($5000)*0.01]*4M=$510M

Many babies do multiple physical therapy visits for treatment of torticollis which is tightly correlated with flat head syndrome; and many parents buy mattresses, pillows, and other preventive or treatment products that adds to the above cost.

[1] Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJ, Driscoll AK, Drake P (2016): Births: Final data for 2016.

[2] Mawji A, Vollman AR, Hatfield J, McNeil DA, Sauvé R. (2013): The incidence of positional plagiocephaly: a cohort study. Pediatrics, Aug 1;132(2):298-304.

[3] Carl Cummings, Positional plagiocephaly. Paediatr Child Health 2011;16(8):493-94. Link: https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/positional-plagiocephaly#ref1.

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