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Preventing Flat Head Syndrome Across the World

TortleDr. Jane Scott, a Board Certified Pediatrician and Neonatologist, is the founder and creator of Tortle Products, LCC.   Tortle officially launched in October 2012 and is a lightweight soft knit beanie with a support roll, which is adorable when sewn in fashion forward fabrics and teamed up with the baby’s outfit.  In Dr. Jane’s opinion, Tortle is something that moms can easily fit into a baby’s everyday wardrobe.  Over the last thirty years practicing medicine, Dr. Jane watched Flat Head Syndrome grow exponentially in infants to epidemic numbers and witnessed countless parents struggle to treat this problem.  Some are fortunate to receive an early diagnosis, when the issue is still fairly easy to correct.  However, there are also many devastated parents who are faced with many difficult choices because of something that could have been easily prevented.  Dr. Jane says, “Seeing so much unnecessary heartache led me to design Tortle, an FDA-cleared, simple, safe, and comfortable beanie designed to aid parents in positioning their infants’ heads. By switching the Tortle from side to side with each feeding, parents alleviate the flat spots and neck tightness that newborns often develop.”    

TortleTortle is quite different from other products on the market because it is both functional and cute.  For Dr. Jane, Tortle had to be able to help caregivers when infants were placed in multiple different places, (e.g., cribs, carriers including car seats, strollers, bouncers, etc.).   It had to be able to help position the child’s head from side to side, and the infant needed it to be held close to the head, otherwise, they roll away from the very thing that is positioning them.  Once she had the function figured out, then the material became important; soft, washable, non-irritating all had to be chosen.  She also knew that moms love seeing their babies in cute clothing – thus the cuteness factor!  Easy to use, you simply place support roll behind baby’s ear to aid in the repositioning of baby’s head from left to right.  Reposition support roll and infants head after each use (every 2-3 hours) for a minimum of 6-8 hours a day.  It is recommended to use Tortle daily through each size until baby is 6 months.  It should fit snugly and beanie should be pulled down to nape of neck covering baby’s ears.  Beware that this is not for use overnight or tummy time.  When traveling, make sure your baby is wearing their Tortle while in car seats, strollers and switch the side of the support roll from time to time.

TortleNearly 1 in 2 babies will get flat head syndrome as there is a 600% increase in flat head.  Flat head syndrome is a result of 3 primary factors about infants: skull bones are soft, heads are large and heavy necks are weak.  Two main components of flat head syndrome are deformational plagiocephaly (condition in which flat spots develop on the infant’s skull) and torticollis (occurs when an infant’s neck muscles become tight on one side, causing a head tilt).  Babies may be born with torticollis or plagiocephaly because of restricted in utero positioning, during the birthing process or from extended stays in the neonatal intensive care unit.  But more commonly it occurs because infants spend an average of 16 hours daily lying on their backs (the safest position for baby), when traveling in car sweats, swings, bouncers, strollers and on playmates.  Additionally, current research suggests an association with developmental delays and consistent treatment is very important.  Addressing torticollis and encouraging passive neck muscle stretching to promote full range of motion is extremely important. 

TortleDr. Jane’s favorite is the blue elephant design but she is really looking forward to the new stripes and dots pattern coming out in Spring.  The process of coming up with the design came from spending a lot of time with babies and parents, and being able to see all of the latest colors and designs.  Dr. Jane enjoys saying current with fashion and watched for future colors and patterns not only in baby styles but mom trends as well.  She found that Millennium moms are very practical.  As torticollis is a medical terms for uneven neck muscles and a common feature of Flat Head Syndrome in babies, Dr. Jane wanted a company name that was strong enough to have its own character while being catchy and unique.  She named her line Tortle based on a turtle shell or carapace to help shape the body of the baby’s turtle as Tortle helps shape the head of precious little babies.  The darling little green turtle is the logo for Tortle. 

TortleDr. Jane graduated from the University of Western Australia Medical School in Perth and later attended the University of Colorado Medical School.  She then completed her residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Neonatology at Duke University.  While she did not study design in college, she has always been interested in it and spent many hours in high school drawing, sculpting and weaving in art programs.  As a senior in high school, she knew she wanted to become a physician and realized after giving birth to a 31 week preemie that she would pursue a professional pathway to Neonatology.  “When you help an infant you can make a difference in a person’s whole lifetime.  I have loved every minute of my career serving those infants and their families.  They are just so special.”  Dr. Jane’s life has been full of travel, new cultures, managing in different languages and new challenges.  Being creative is something she really enjoys as she has learned to manage her life in many different ways. 

Dr. Jane has a heart of gold as she truly has a love and compassion for newborns and their families.  Her creative project prior to Tortle was building a neonatal intensive care unit in a rural community in Idaho, that otherwise needed to transport all of their premature or sick infants to a tertiary care center 120 miles away.  She shares, “This was quite a challenge but it was one of the most rewarding undertakings that I have ever done in my life.  Helping infants at their time of need shortly after birth and being able to keep families together by avoiding a transport to a distant nursery was clearly very meaningful to the parents and I enjoyed being able to provide the service to these families.”  Dr. Jane considers herself lucky enough to have spent her entire childhood traveling the world, from Mobasa, Kenya to Manchester, England to Hobart, and Tasmania to name a few.  Another fun fact is that her four children were born on three different continents.  As a physician who has specialized in Pediatrics and Neonatology, she has a passion for helping children and her mission at this time in her life is to eradicate Flat Head Syndrome for all children in all parts of the world.

TortleDr. Jane is the primary creator but believes that a team approach is more effective in obtaining a good result.  “I am a good listener and always like to get constructive input from my team, but it is also helpful and important to receive information from moms, therapists, physicians, etc.,” she adds.  Tortle hats are manufactured in China, where factories have tremendous experience and quality protocols, giving us the best quality for the product.  Dr. Jane says, “We strongly feel that infant apparel must be particularly well made and have tight quality controls.”  Tortle plans to introduce at least four new styles annually beginning in Spring/Summer 2014.  For the future, Dr. Jane sees her company’s products in many different parts of the world as this problem affects millions of babies globally and is certainly not unique to the U.S.  She hopes her products are able to not only help children who have developed the problem, but used as a preventative measure to protect baby’s heads from Flat Head Syndrome. 

Tortle is available in independent juvenile product stores nationwide and at Buy Buy Baby and select Babies ‘R’ Us stores.


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