Deformational plagiocephaly is a craniofacial condition where the occipital region of an infant’s skull becomes flattened as a result of prenatal or external factors. It is considered to be a primarily cosmetic condition that has no significant long term consequences. A few recent studies, however, have begun to suggest that children with deformational plagiocephaly may exhibit developmental delays or deficits. The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive and language functioning of preschool age children who had been diagnosed with deformational plagiocephaly. Further, the study hoped to understand the relationship between developmental functioning in infancy and cognitive and language functioning during the preschool years in this population as well as the relationship between severity of plagiocephaly and later cognitive development.

The participants of the study were patients of the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Team Center, where the children had obtained care for their diagnosis of deformational plagiocephaly. Twelve children (7 males and 5 females) between the ages of 3 and 5 years whose ethnic composition was primarily Caucasian and Latino participated in the study. On the WPPSI-III, the mean cognitive composites of the study participants were all in the Average range. Z-tests also revealed that there were no significant discrepancies between the cognitive composites scores of study participants and the instruments normative sample, however, 58% of the participants had significant VIQ-PIQ discrepancies. On the TELD-3, the mean language scores for the study sample were in the Average range. Further analyses revealed that early functioning was not associated with performance on verbal and language tasks during the preschool years, but is associated with performance on certain nonverbal tasks. Finally strong, but nonsignificant, relationships were found only between severity of cranial asymmetry and VIQ.

In conclusion, children with deformational plagiocephaly were found to be on par with same age peers in terms of their cognitive and language functioning during the preschool years. However, some concerns were raised in terms of their long-term development and future academic functioning as significant VIQ-PIQ discrepancies have been associated with academic learning disabilities as well as nonverbal learning disorders in other populations. This suggests that additional research, examining their academic and neuropsychological functioning, is necessary.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology


Clinical Psychology


Graduate Studies

First Advisor

Kiti Freier Randall

Second Advisor

Todd Burley

Third Advisor

Edward Elmendorf

Fourth Advisor

Kim Freeman

Fifth Advisor

Joy Nichols

Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Plagiocephaly, Nonsynostolic -- complications -- disserations; Facial Bones -- abnormalities; Skull -- abnormalities; Craniosynostoses -- complications; Risk Factors; Cranial Sutures -- abnormalities; Brain -- growth and development; Brain -- physiopathology; Child Development; Cognition -- physiology -- in infancy & childhood; Language Development -- in infancy & childhood.



Page Count

xi; 88

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives