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Annual Rise in Plagiocephaly Prevalence in Texas

Trend mainly due to available therapies, insurance reimbursement, but not coding practices

TUESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- The significant increase in the prevalence of plagiocephaly in Texas from 1999 to 2007 may be mainly due to changes in available therapies, and insurance reimbursement policies, according to a study published online April 4 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Shane U. Sheu, M.P.H., from the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, and colleagues examined factors that may account for the nine-fold increase in plagiocephaly in Texas between 1999 and 2007. Overall, regional, demographic, and clinical time trends of birth prevalence of plagiocephaly and trends in percentage of cases using specific facilities or procedures were the main outcomes of the study.

The investigators found that plagiocephaly prevalence increased significantly from 3.0 cases per 10,000 live births in 1999 to 28.8 in 2007, an average 21.2 percent increase per year. Similar time trends were observed in all demographic and clinical subgroups but were most pronounced in the Dallas and Fort Worth regions and in specific health care facilities. Compared to cases born in 1999 and 2000, cases born in 2004 and 2005 were not more likely to be acquired postnatally. No commensurate reduction in other birth defects of the face or skull was observed.

"Because the plagiocephaly trend was observed mainly in patients visiting certain health care facilities, among mild cases, and among cases with minimally invasive procedures, we suspect it may be due mainly to changes in available therapies and insurance reimbursement practices," the authors write.

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