Neurodevelopmental functioning of infants with untreated single-suture craniosynostosis during early infancy

Annette C. Da Costa, Vicki A. Anderson, Ravi Savarirayan, Jacquie A Wrennall, David K. Chong, Anthony D. Holmes, Andrew L. Greensmith, John G Meara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Single-suture craniosynostosis (SSC) is a congenital craniofacial disorder, in which premature fusion of one of the skull sutures restricts and distorts growth of the cranium and underlying brain. This disorder of prenatal onset occurs during a critical phase of rapid growth and development of the immature brain. Craniosynostosis carries a known risk of developmental impairment. The neurodevelopmental sequelae of SSC prior to treatment remains however incompletely understood. This study sought to determine the neurodevelopmental sequelae of untreated single-suture craniosynostosis during early infancy. Methods: Fifty-six consecutive patients with unoperated SSC (sagittal, metopic and unicoronal) comprised the sample cohort. Patients were aged between 4 and 16 months (M= 8.9 months, SD=2.9 months). Neurodevelopmental functioning was assessed with the mental (Mental Development Index) and motor (Psychomotor Development Index) scales of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, second edition. Results: Children with SSC displayed significantly lower mean mental (M=97.7, SD=6.7, p<0.05) and motor (M=87.7, SD= 13.0, p<0.001) scores than normative population averages. The distribution of these scores also differed significantly from the normative distribution; an increased rate of significant motor developmental delay was found, and none of the children displayed accelerated development. Subgroup comparisons between the primary diagnostic subtypes in this sample revealed no significant differences in mental or motor skill functioning. Conclusions: Untreated SSC is associated with an increased incidence of developmental delay during early infancy, with motor skills appearing the most vulnerable to impairment during this developmental phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-877
Number of pages9
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniofacial anomalies
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Early brain development
  • Neurodevelopmental function

Cite this