It is common to get strange looks from people I talk to about taking infants to the chiropractor. I know what is going through their heads: is it safe…babies don’t have back pain…do babies get adjusted the same way I do? These are legitimate concerns for any parent, but to answer them I will begin with the most important question: WHY?
Let’s start with the obvious. When was the last time you tried to squeeze through a 10cm hole?
Being born is tough work, there are a lot of pressures and forces being exerted onto your baby during their journey into the world. A current study demonstrated that 90% of newborns suffered birth trauma and associated strain through the neck and cranial areas following birth. Even the most natural births can result in trauma that goes undetected. Left uncorrected this trauma continues to impact your baby’s spinal growth and development, reducing the healthy function of their spinal cord. This can cause many health challenges later in life that could easily have been prevented.
What can cause birth trauma?
- Very short labor
- Very long labor
- Failure of the cervix to dilate
- Use of pitocin to strengthen / induce uterine contractions
- Use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Cord around baby’s neck
- Cesarean delivery (due to lack of progress)
- Pulling or twisting on the head to deliver the infants body.
Birth trauma often causes neurological dysfunction. In fact, a study by Gutmann examining more than 1000 infants concluded that approximately 80% had some form of nerve dysfunction.¹ This is of utmost importance since 65% of neurological development (brain and nervous system) occurs in your child’s first year. During this crucial time it is vital that the nerve system be healthy so the child can grow and develop to their potential.
The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and it processes everything that your body does. Movement, a heartbeat, seeing a baby smile, feeling the sun on your skin, laughing, smelling, creativity – all coordinated by the brain and spinal cord.
In infants the central nervous system also controls their growth and development. Being the time of greatest brain and proprioceptor (body position sensors) development, you want to ensure the health of the nervous system. This is what chiropractors who take care of babies look for, disturbances in their nervous systems that interfere with healthy growth and development.
Remember: If your baby’s spine stays out of balance, it puts tension on their nervous system.
What can nerve tension look like in infants?
- trouble breathing
- reflux / frequent spitting up
- irritability / colic
- difficulty nursing (impaired sucking / swallowing or head positioning)
- balance issues
- sleeping difficulty
- delayed developmental milestones
- recurring ear infections
Is it safe for infants to get adjusted?
Yes! Chiropractic is a safe, gentle and effective way to address nerve dysfunction and promote overall wellness in the newborn and growing child. Adverse events linked to pediatric chiropractic care are virtually non-existent, estimated at 1 in 250 million pediatric visits. There is not a single medical procedure safer than that, but I would encourage parents seek out chiropractors who routinely take care of children in their practice.
Chiropractic adjustments for newborns differ significantly from those performed on adults. Often the chiropractor will use light fingertip pressure on the baby’s back or neck, while other times they may choose to use a hand held instrument to adjust the baby’s spine. Infant adjustments are very gentle, and typically a baby will be soothed by an adjustment, or even sleep through the process!
What are the benefits of adjusting infants?
Many parents have their children checked regularly by chiropractors as part of a healthy lifestyle to help them develop to their potential. Chiropractic care is focused solely on removing nerve dysfunction which improves the brain-body communication and the function of the entire body. Frequently, the signs of nerve tension listed above improve.
Chiropractic adjustments in the early stages of neurologic imprinting appear to safely and effectively address the cranio-cervical dysfunction and help restore natural, efficient suckling patterns for infants who are unable to successfully latch.” – Dr. S Vallone4
Two major studies on chiropractic and infantile colic have shown that over a period of two weeks (usually three visits) 94% of babies adjusted by chiropractors showed a successful rating, with 25% showing improvement after the first adjustment.5
Chiropractic care also helps to strengthen the immune system. A leader in psychoneuroimmunology, Dr. Candice Pert, credits chiropractic as having a significant effect on maximizing immunity via maintenance of a healthy nervous system.6 Another pilot study examined the relationship between intensity of chiropractic care and incidence of childhood diseases. The results showed that children who went to the chiropractor more than seven times per year had an increased resistance (immunity) to common childhood diseases.7
All children deserve the right to express their fullest potential.
Chiropractic care for children is safe, gentle and effective. It allows for the opportunity for maximum potential for well-being. You will find a qualified pediatric chiropractor in your area by visiting the website icpa4kids.org.
*Article adapted from http://colebradburn.com/2012/01/04/why-infants-need-chiropractic-care/
1) Frymann VM. Springall P. Effect of Osteopathic Medical Management on Neurologic Development in Children. JAOA. 1992;92:729.
3) Towbin A. Latent Spinal Cord and Brain Stem Injury in Newborn Infants. Dev Med Child Neurol. 1969;11:54-68
4) Vallone SA. The Role of Subluxation and Chiropractic Care in Hypolactation. JCCP. 2007;8(1&2)
5) Jesper. et al. The Short Term Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Randomized Controlled Trial with a Blinded Observer. JMPT. 1999;22;517-522
6) Pert C PhD. Molecules of Emotion. New York: Schribner; 1997.
7) Aymon M. Moss R. Rebne R. Neilsen K. The Relationship between Intensity of Chiropractic Care and the Incidence of Childhood Diseases. J Chiro Research. 1989;70-77