Cognitive Issues Often Mild in Single-Suture Craniosynostosis

Although children with the disorder scored lower overall on academic assessments, cognitive impairments are often mild.

Researchers from Seattle Children’s Hospital have published their findings from a first-of-its-kind 10-year study that tracked cognitive development in children with single-suture craniosynostosis.

According to study results, published in Pediatrics, while children with the disorder were more likely to have learning deficits than those without, over 50% of children with the disorder show no discernible learning problems. Deficits observed during infancy are often mild, and children tend to do fairly well early on in school.

The researchers compared 182 school-aged children with single-suture craniosynostosis to 182 healthy children using standardized tests of intelligence, reading, spelling, and math. Children with craniosynostosis averaged lower scores overall compared to controls, with the largest difference observed in full-scale IQ and math computation, and the smallest difference observed in reading and spelling. Still, most children with craniosynostosis performed well academically.

Differences in developmental delays varied among the subtypes of craniosynostosis. Children with metopic, unicoronal, and lambdoid synostosis were more likely to have cognitive problems than those with sagittal synostosis, the most common form of the disorder. Boys with the disorder were also more likely to score lower on academic and IQ exams than girls with the disorder.

“This information helps us determine which children are at greatest risk of falling behind,” said Matthew Speltz, MD, of Seattle Children’s Craniofacial Center. “This will enable us to better target children with single-suture craniosynostosis for early screening and intervention programs that prevent or minimize cognitive and academic difficulties later in life.”

Single-suture craniosynostosis affects about one in every 1,700-2,500 live births, with corrective surgery often performed within the first year of life. 


  1. Speltz ML et al. Pediatrics. 2015; doi:10.1542/peds.2014-1634.