5 questions about fontanelles

5 questions about fontanelles

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At the birth of your baby and during his first months, his head is not yet completely ossified. Fontanelles, areas soft to the touch, are often impressive. We take stock.

1. What are fontanelles?

  • The bones of your baby's skull are delimited by sutures. At birth, the sutures are cartilaginous zones whose edges are separated by a few millimeters. At their intersection, there are non-ossified membranous zones. These are the fontanelles.
  • There are two that are visible, palpable and flexible to the touch. The anterior fontanel is the largest. It is a large soft diamond-shaped area a few centimeters high at the top of the skull. At birth, another fontanelle can be seen at the back of the skull. This relatively malleable tissue that forms the large fontanelle allows the growth of the skull to adjust to that of the brain. It is the same sutures that will ossify gradually around the brain.

2. Why is the doctor watching them closely?

  • Fontanelle is a membranous structure that is soft to the touch. It must always be flat and flexible. It is slightly hollowed when the baby is in a sitting position. When ill, examination of the fontanelle will help the doctor's diagnosis. If it is very bulging and tense, it does not beat, it can evoke meningitis. If it is dug, it is a sign of dehydration very dangerous for the baby.

3. Does the fontanelle always look the same?

  • No, the fontanelle does not always have the same appearance depending on the baby's condition. When he shouts, coughs or cries, she bombs slightly. When he is calm, you see him beat. By touch, you can spot that beat. It's a sign that everything is fine.

4. Is it dangerous to touch them at the time of shampooing?

  • No. The skull, still supple and pulsating at the fontanelle, may impress, but there is no risk of hurting your baby by gently touching it when you wash your hair.

5. When do they close?

  • If the posterior fontanelle closes after birth, the big one will shrink little by little. It disappears completely between the 10th and the 20th month. If it closes too early, however, the sutures allow the cranial perimeter to increase normally. But if the closure is early and the skull does not develop properly, the brain may not have enough room to form well.
  • Sometimes one of the sutures closed prematurely. It can be palpated as a bead. This is called craniosynostosis: the skull may develop asymmetrically. In some cases, very rare, surgical treatment is required.

Karine Ancelet

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