A baby's skull consists of five thin, curved bony plates that are held
together by fibrous material called
sutures. The skull is soft enough so that it can expand as a baby's brain grows. Usually, the area within a baby's skull
doubles in the first 6 months of life and doubles again by age 2. Some sutures
begin to close at about this time. After age 2, the skull and brain grow at a
much slower rate.
The sutures gradually harden (ossify) to join the skull bones
together. The spaces where sutures meet are called fontanelles or "
If any of the sutures close too early, it may affect normal skull
development, sometimes resulting in a misshapen head or other problems.
Babies born with certain conditions may have irregular fontanelles
and sutures. For example, a baby born with
congenital hydrocephalus may have wider sutures than
normal, and the tissue covering the fontanelles may bulge.
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