What are fontanelles?
The fontanel is the contact area of the skull bones or the so-called soft points of the skull in order to allow the passage of the child through the birth canal (if these soft areas of the skull did not exist, vaginal birth would be impossible) and to allow the brain to develop in the first months of life.
The fontanelles, despite the fact that they seem vulnerable places, paradoxically, have the role of protecting the child from the serious effects of possible head trauma. At the moment of a blow, the bones of the skull, instead of fracturing, can easily move between them thanks to their cartilaginous structure and fontanelles, protecting the brain and the skull bones.
The fontanelles are well protected.
Although it seems that the brain is immediately under the integument, the area of the fontanelles is well protected by a fibrous tissue that maintains the integrity of the cranial box and defends the child’s brain from any possible aggressions from the external environment.
At birth, the child has six fontanelles, exactly on the future suture areas of the cranial bones, but the one that matters the most, the one that is an indicator of the child’s evolution and is the most visible and easily palpable is the anterior fontanel that is in the area of the top of the head.
The pediatrician periodically checks the anterior fontanel by light palpation, and what he is looking for is the rate of coverage of the anterior fontanel relative to the growth rate of the child and, essentially, always relative to the circumference of the child’s skull.
Parents know that, apart from weight and height, one of the measurements that the pediatrician makes at each baby’s check-up visit is the measurement of the circumference of the cranial box. Only in relation to these data can the question be raised as to whether the rhythm of fontanelle closure is too slow or too fast.
Another detail that parents need to know is that the closing rate of the anterior fontanelle varies greatly from one child to another, just as its initial size also varies, on average being about 2/2 centimeters, with no variations plus or minus to have something abnormal.
Interestingly, in the first months of life, the anterior fontanel will increase in size compared to the moment of birth, due to the fact that the volume of the brain increases a lot and quickly.
The fontanel in babies can close anytime between 3 and 24 months, sometimes even later.
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