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Jul 13, 2012 10:01 AM

Pricey helmets help reshape a baby's head

TUCSON- Since the early nineties doctors have recommended babies sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. The advice has cut the death rate in half, but it has also sparked a new phenomenon you may have seen before, babies wearing helmets.

"By sleeping on your back, those backbones get pushed, so the helmet is designed to apply pressure on the other side and reshape the many bones into a more normal skull shape," Pediatrician Susan McMahon says.

Melanie Garcia recently bought a helmet for her nine-month-old daughter, after Dr. McMahon noticed her head was a little flat. Her daughter has to wear the hat for nearly 24 hours a day for a minimum of three months. "She's a trooper," Garcia says.

It comes in all sorts of colors and costs about $2,000. "She's going to have an expensive little noggin," Garcia says.

But if parents don't want to pay the price, they don't have to. Dr. McMahon says the helmet is only for cosmetic reasons. Whether parents choose to buy it or not, McMahon says they should continue putting their babies to sleep on their backs. "Your child may have a flat head, but your child is alive," McMahon says.

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