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Fontanelles and Sutures of the Infant Skull


Topic Overview

The skull consists of five thin, curved, bony plates that are held together by fibrous material called sutures. These sutures allow a baby's skull to expand with the growing brain. Usually, the area within a baby's skull doubles in the first 6 months of life and doubles again by age 2. Some sutures begin to close at about this time. After age 2, the skull and brain grow at a much slower rate.

The sutures gradually harden (ossify) to join the skull bones together. The spaces where sutures meet are called fontanelles or "soft spots." See a picture of the sutures and fontanellesClick here to see an illustration..

Babies born with certain conditions may have irregular fontanelles and sutures. For example, a baby born with congenital hydrocephalus may have wider sutures than normal, and the tissue covering the fontanelles may bulge.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristian G. Zimmerman, MD, FACS, MBA - Neurological Surgery
Last RevisedJanuary 24, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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