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Study: Helmets Designed To Prevent Baby Flat Head May Not Be Worth It

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Parents spend thousands of dollars to keep their kids safe, but new information shows one big expense may not be worth it.

Those helmets that are supposed to prevent babies from getting flat heads may not be working, CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock reported Friday.

When it's bedtime for baby, pediatricians say back is best.

"Because babies are sleeping on their backs, the incidents of SIDS has gone down dramatically, by 50 percent. Because babies are sleeping on their back, they get flattening of the head," pediatrician Dr. Minu George said.

Flat heads are quite common in fact, affecting 15-20 percent of infants. In some cases, infants wear helmets to reshape their skulls. Helmets can be expensive -- in the thousands of dollars.

A new study results suggest spending the money may not be worth it. Researchers in the Netherlands prescribed helmets to 42 infants while allowing 42 more to reshape naturally. After two years their heads were evaluated. The improvements noted among the two groups weren't significantly different.

"We don't know what product was used. What was the treatment protocol? How many times a month were they followed up with? Were they followed up with at all?" said Denise Smith, managing clinician at Cranial Technologies in Hackensack, N.J.

The company claims the research is inherently flawed and the proof is in the pictures that their DOC Bands work.

"The fit of the band is of utmost importance," Smith said.

Little Laila was custom fit using digital imaging and just started to wear her DOC Band a month ago.

"So far she's doing really well. She adjusted to it pretty quickly," said said mother Leonie Prince of Fort Lee, N.J. "She's actually had a lot of change so far."

Dr. George said she may recommend a helmet, but only in severe cases, adding she believes prevention is key.

"I tell my mommies from day one about positioning the baby. Once their umbilical cord falls off it's really important to put then on their tummies when they're awake," George said.

George said she recommends tummy time three to four times a day.

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