What is Sunken Fontanelle: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Sunken Fontanelle?

Sunken fontanelle is a common problem in newborns. It is important to know about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of sunken fontanelle.

Newborns are usually born with a soft spot on the skull of their body. The skull of a human being is formed with numerous bones which are connected together with the help of tough flexible tissue. This flexible tissue allows the baby to pass through the birth canal. Apart from that with the help of this flexible tissue, the brain and skull of the baby grow during the first year of life. There are numerous fontanels on the skull at the time of the birth of the baby. However, the fontanelle that are present on the top and back side of the head of the baby are the most essential. Sunken fontanelle happens when the soft spot on the baby’s head is deep set than that is normal.

What is Sunken Fontanelle?

Symptoms of Sunken Fontanelle

Some of the common symptoms of sunken fontanelle are given below.

  • The tongue and lips become dry
  • The skin becomes cool and dry
  • The heartbeat becomes rapid
  • Infrequent urination takes place in baby
  • When the baby cries, there are no tears
  • Eyes become sunken.

Cause of Sunken Fontanelle

It is necessary to understand the factors contributing to sunken fontanelle. Some of the main causes of sunken fontanelle include.

  • Dehydration. Dehydration is the major cause of sunken fontanelle. Dehydration mainly occurs when there is insufficient fluid in the body that is required for maintaining normal functioning. Dehydration in children also occurs due to vomiting, diarrhea, fever, excessive urination and also when the baby does not take enough fluid that is required for the body.
  • Kwashiorkor syndrome. It is a serious form of malnutrition which is mainly caused due to lack of protein.
  • Toxic megacolon. It is a kind of complicated inflammatory bowel disease which is a life-threatening condition. It requires urgent treatment when toxic megacolon occurs otherwise it can take the life of the baby.
  • Diabetes insipidus. It is a rare disease which mainly occurs when the kidney is not able to conserve water.

Diagnosis of Sunken Fontanelle

Doctors generally detect sunken fontanelle by observing the symptoms. Thus, it is very essential to tell the doctor every complaint and symptoms of the baby so that it becomes easier for the doctor to detect sunken fontanelle. If the doctor guesses that the baby is suffering from sunken fontanelle they may order one or two tests for confirming the disease. Diagnosis of sunken fontanelle is confirmed with a combination of examination and investigation reports.

Generally, urine and blood tests are done. Apart from that in some cases, doctors may advice complete blood count (CBC) which is required for measuring red blood cell and white blood cell of the baby. Another test that doctor may recommend is a comprehensive metabolic panel with the help of which the malnutrition can be detected.

Treatment of Sunken Fontanelle

In case sunken fontanelle is caused due to dehydration it is required to take immediate medical attention. In such cases, infant fluid is immediately given to the baby so that they can rehydrate. However, in case the reason of sunken fontanelle is malnutrition then the treatment will vary from child to child depending on the cause. It becomes necessary to increase the intake of overall calorie and the level of nutrition. Following medical advice is important. While healthy a diet is essential, any nutritional supplements must be considered only with medical advice.


Sunken fontanelle is a condition affecting the infants. Though fontanelle occurs naturally in infants in some cases it becomes sunken and at such times it is very essential to take medical treatment as soon as possible. So, in case you observe some of the above-mentioned symptoms in the baby, it is necessary to check with the doctor and take appropriate action. By treating the underlying causes of sunken fontanelle in time, the condition can be managed well.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 22, 2021

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