Baby Wears ‘Aviator’ Helmet For Protection After Skull Surgery

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A baby boy from Pueblo travels to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora every two weeks to have his skull checked.

That’s because 9-month-old Jude Mainard was born with a condition called craniosynostosis, some bones in his skull had fused too early. It leads to an abnormally shaped head and possibly too little room for the growing brain. One in 2,500 newborns have it.

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Jude Mainard (credit: CBS)

Jude arrives at the hospital looking like a tiny aviator. He is wearing a bright blue helmet painted like he’s a pilot. But it isn’t just for show.

“Jude was getting a long kind of abnormally long head,” explained Molly Cotner, Jude’s mother.

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Molly with Jude (credit: CBS)

When Jude was months old, Cotner sensed a problem.

Specialists at Children’s Hospital Colorado found that Jude had sagittal craniosynostosis, the most common type of the condition. It is the premature closure of the sagittal suture, the dense, fibrous connective tissue joint that runs along the top of the skull.

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Molly with Jude (credit: Molly Cotner)

“It was not allowing his brain and his head to grow out this way,” said Cotner.

At 5 months, through small incisions in Jude’s scalp, surgeons removed a narrow strip of fused bone. Jude has since been wearing a specially-molded helmet 23 hours a day to reshape his head.

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Lizz Peterson with Jude Mainard (credit: CBS)

“The helmet will put a road block front to back and allow your head to grow side to side,” said Certified Orthotist and Prosthetist Lizz Peterson of Children’s.

Every two weeks, she scans the baby’s head. Peterson checks the size of Jude’s head and the size of the helmet.

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(credit: CBS)

“It’s (the helmet) too small,” she said this time.

Jude is growing normally. He’ll get a new, bigger helmet in two weeks.

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Certified Orthotist and Prosthetist Lizz Peterson (credit: CBS)

“I think we’re going to do a Colorado-themed helmet, that’s the plan,” said Cotner.

She does her best to make having the helmet fun, but she’s looking forward to the day she can take it off her baby boy for good.

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CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Molly Cotner (credit: CBS)

That could happen in a few months. Jude needs to wear the helmet at least until he is 12 months old. His birthday is Dec. 3.

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Jude Mainard (credit: CBS)

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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