Why Is a Baby’s Skull Not Fused at Birth?

In this post, we’ll explore how a baby’s skull develops and answer questions about why a baby’s skull isn’t fused together at birth. We will cover the common injuries that a baby’s skull can suffer during delivery.

This information has been collected from government, medical, and expert sources.

To find out the fascinating reasons why baby’s skulls are not fused at birth, keep reading!

labeled infant skull

The Anatomy of a Newborn Skull

You may think of your skull as being one large bone–however, a skull is actually made of a number of bones that are connected together. In a newborn, there are two frontal bones, two parietal bones, and an occipital bone. 

These bones are connected by a material called “sutures.” 


Sutures are an incredible benefit to newborn babies. Serving as the “glue” that holds the large bones together, sutures offer the skull flexibility to move and grow as the baby matures. The major sutures are called the metopic, coronal, sagittal, and lambdoid sutures.

As a baby matures, these sutures gradually become less flexible over time. Eventually, the sutures will close completely and the bones in the skull will fuse together. 


Fontanelles are the space between an infant’s skull bones where the sutures cross each other. There are two fontanelles on a baby’s skull, the anterior fontanelle and the posterior fontanelle. These fontanelles serve to protect the infant’s brain and soft tissues.

The Dangers of a Skull that Fuses too Soon

If a baby’s skull bones come together and fuse too soon, it can cause a condition called craniosynostosis. When a baby has craniosynostosis, one or more of the sutures closes too early, and the baby’s skull continues growing in an abnormal fashion. 

Sometimes the brain gets squeezed by the skull bones that fused too soon, which can cause pressure to build up inside of the skull. Often, surgery is required to correct this condition. 

Other Risk Factors

Although an infant’s skull is soft and pliable at birth, some babies still suffer skull fractures and other head trauma during the delivery process. Ideally, the soft and flexible nature of the baby’s skull will allow the baby to pass through the birth canal without risking permanent damage.

However, sometimes fractures to the skull occur during birth. These fractures can cause serious brain injuries that can result in permanent injuries, such as Cerebral Palsy.

Damage from Instruments

Sometimes medical professionals use forceps grips or vacuum extractors during the birthing process. When these instruments are used improperly, the result can be head trauma to the baby that includes skull fractures. 

Prolonged and Complicated Labor

In complicated and long labors, medical professionals are more likely to use instruments like forceps and vacuum extractors to try and speed up the delivery. If the baby shows signs of asphyxiation, the medical professionals may start to panic and force the delivery. A rushed delivery may result in errors that cause skull fractures.


McGrath, A., & Taylor, R. (2019). Pediatric Skull Fractures. Statpearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482218/

SH, O. (2019). The significance of incomplete skull fracture in the birth injury. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20005051

Imaging in Skull Fractures: Practice Essentials, Radiography, Computed Tomography. (2019). Emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/343764-overview

Traumatic brain injury – Symptoms and causes. (2019). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 4 December 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557

Contact a Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injury Attorney

Getting help for a child with a birth injury can make a big difference. Early intervention and early treatment is often key to helping improve a child’s wellbeing. You must act quickly.

If you have questions about whether your child’s birth injury was caused by a preventable medical error, then our attorneys at Brown Trial Firm may be able to help.

Case Review at No Cost or Obligation

If you would like help investigating your child’s birth injury, please contact us. Our birth injury attorneys will be happy to give you a free case evaluation. We can also point you to great non-legal resources that can help you figure out your next steps.

Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented. Don’t wait, get help today. Call +1 (844) 232-9228, email us at [email protected], or use the live chat button for 24/7 assistance.

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