CraniotabesCongenital cranial osteoporosis
Craniotabes is a softening of the skull bones.
Craniotabes can be a normal finding in infants, particularly premature infants. It may occur in up to one third of all newborn infants.
- Soft areas of the skull, especially along the suture line
- Soft areas pop in and out
- Bones may feel soft, flexible, and thin along the suture lines
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will press the bone along the area where the bones of the skull come together. The bone often pops in and out, similar to pressing on a Ping-Pong ball if the problem is present.
No testing is done unless osteogenesis imperfecta or rickets is suspected.
Craniotabes that are not associated with other conditions are not treated.
Complete healing is expected.
There are no complications in most cases.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
This problem is most often found when the baby is examined during a well-baby check. Call your provider if you notice that your child has signs of craniotabes (to rule out other problems).
Most of the time, craniotabes is not preventable. Exceptions are when the condition is associated with rickets and osteogenesis imperfecta.
Escobar O, Viswanathan P, Witchel SF. Pediatric endocrinology. In: Zitelli, BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 9.
Greenbaum LA. Rickets and hypervitaminosis D. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 51.
Graham JM, Sanchez-Lara PA. Vertex craniotabes. In: Graham JM, Sanchez-Lara PA, eds. Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Deformation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 36.
Review Date: 3/6/2019
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.