The bones of the skull are not joined together firmly at birth. The sutures gradually accumulate minerals and harden (this process is called ossification), firmly joining the skull bones together. In an infant, the spaces where sutures intersect but don't completely touch is called the "soft spot", a membrane covered area also called a fontanelle (fontanel or fonticulus). The fontanelles allow for growth of the skull during an infant's first year. When the spaces of the fontanelles are larger than normal underlying causes such as hydrocephalus may be suspected.
Last reviewed 11/7/2011 by Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
- The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
- A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.
- Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
- Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.
Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.