What are separated sutures?
A young child’s head is composed of six bony plates that fuse together as the child ages. The edges of the plates are connected and form what is known as a suture. Sutures are strong, flexible tissues that hold the cranial bones together. Two sutures form a membrane known as a soft spot, or fontanel, where they meet. Sutures help protect an infant’s brain while also allowing for growth. If sutures separate, you may notice an obvious plate separation, along with an indented or bulging space that is most notable on the top of the infant’s head. Separated sutures are large, atypical gaps in the skull of an infant.
How common are separated sutures?
Separated sutures are common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can separated sutures usually be associated with?
Related signs and symptoms include:
- Abulging soft spot
- Swelling, inflammation, or release of fluid from the suture areas
What causes separated sutures?
Suture separation can be caused by variety of factors. A common, nonthreatening cause is childbirth. The plates of a newborn’s skull may overlap and form a ridge. In such cases, the ridge typically goes away in a few days, allowing the skull to take on a normal shape. Other causes of suture separation are more serious and deserve immediate attention. Some main causes of suture separation are described below.
Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause a separation of sutures. Your infant can become malnourished if they do not receive the proper nutrients for keeping the connective tissues and bone plates healthy. Dehydration (a lack of fluid) can also cause sunken fontanels that resemble suture separation.
Trauma, such as non-accidental child abuse, can cause separation of the sutures as well as a bulging soft spot. A blow to the head can cause internal bleeding in the brain or a collection of blood on the brain’s surface, known as a subdural hematoma. Head trauma in an infant is an emergency and requires immediate medical assistance.
Diseases and conditions
Diseases and conditions that cause increased pressure in the skull may raise an infant’s risk of suture separation. Some conditions and diseases linked to increased intracranial pressure include:
- Brain tumors
- Infections present at birth
- Down syndrome
- Dandy-Walker malformation
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of separated sutures. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my baby’s risk for separated sutures?
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if your child has:
- Separated sutures, bulging fontanelles, or very obvious scalp veins
- Redness, swelling, or discharge from the area of the sutures
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage separated sutures?
These following lifestyles and home remedies might help your baby cope with separated sutures:
- Soft spots may bulge when your infant is throwing up, lying on their back, or crying. The soft spot should return to a normal position — a slight inward curve — once your child becomes calm, sits upright, or stops vomiting. Seek medical assistance if the soft spot continues to protrude.
- Keep a detailed record of your child’s developmental milestones and medical history. This can help medical professionals understand your child’s condition and symptoms. This will be important if the underlying cause is determined to be chronic.
There is no one definitive method for preventing suture separation. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of this happening:
Stay up to date on your child’s vaccines, including those that protect against certain strands of meningitis.
- Avoid exposing your child to people who have, or have recently had, meningitis.
- Protect your child from an accidental trauma to the head by placing bumper pads in the crib, properly installing car seats, and eliminating unstable objects from the child’s environment.
- Provide your child with the proper daily intake of nutrients and fluids as recommended by your doctor.
- Seek immediate medical care for unusual symptoms your child is experiencing.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: February 15, 2019 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019
Separated Sutures. https://www.healthline.com/health/sutures-separated. Accessed February 15, 2019.
Sutures - separated. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003307.htm. Accessed February 15, 2019.