Tiny helmet helps reshape Georgia newborn's head

Meredith Brazell loves her little man Eli, and the 13-month old loves, well, everybody.

"He loves to say hi and wave, to everyone," Meredith Brazell says.  "Even when we're in the grocery, he says hi and waves to people."

The story of how Meredith and Eli ended up in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's cranial remolding program, began when Meredith was still pregnant.

 "So Eli was breech, which means he was head up," she says.

Delivered by caesarian section, Meredith Brazell says, Eli was perfect.

But, on the first day, they saw the shape of his head was uneven.

"We noticed that the left side of his head was flatter than the right side," Brazell says.  "And that's associated with him being breech because his head was turned in my body.  So, his left side of his head wasn't able to develop like the right side of his head."

By about 4 months, Eli's neck muscles were tight, and his cheekbones seemed uneven.

"It was almost as if someone turned his face without turning his head," his mother explains.

That's when the Brazells learned about "cranial remolding."

Children's orthotist Jessica Corso, measured Eli's skull shape with a 3-D scanner, so they could create this tiny blue helmet for him to wear.

"So, the helmet redirects future growth, so it's never anything tight or compressive," Jessica Corso explains.

Eli seemed comfortable, his mother says.

"He didn't act any different," Meredith Brazell says.  "He didn't sleep any different, he didn't fuss," says.

The first day, Eli wore the helmet an hour, the next day, two.

"And we built up to wearing it 23 hours a day, including sleeping in it," Brazell says..

Meredith says snuggling her newborn in the helmet was a little challenging.

So were the comments from strangers, wondering why a baby would need a helmet.

After 6 months in the helmet, the Brazells are back at Children's.

"Today he got a scan in order to do a comparison," Jessica Corso says.

The shape of his skull now looks like any other baby's head, thanks to the helmet.

"And seeing it on the scan, it's unbelievable how much it's helped," Meredith Brazell says.

The family got a surprise. 

Eli Brazell is now a graduate of the cranial remolding program.

He no longer needs his little blue helmet.

"We need to celebrate," his mother says.  "It's certainly something worth celebrating."