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Why do babies have soft spots on top of their heads?

Dear Kathy:

A baby's skull is made of hard bones connected by soft sections where the bones meet. These "soft spots," called fontanels (fon-tuh-NELS), are actually made of tough but flexible cartilage. A baby's brain grows very quickly, and this flexible cartilage lets the skull expand to make room for it.

Most babies are born with six fontanels. The most noticeable soft spots appear on the top and in the back of the baby's head. Usually they get smaller and turn into bone within the baby's first two years. The squiggly line that remains where the bone has been joined is called a suture (SUE-chur) joint.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Ask Doctor Cory
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:U.S. Kids
Date:Dec 1, 1997
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