An infant being born, even under the most routine conditions, is typically the first cause of spinal stress. As the head of the baby appears, the physician will grab the baby’s head and proceed to pull, bend and twist it around almost in a figure eight motion, lifting it up to receive the lower shoulder and then down to receive the upper shoulder. This action creates significant stress on the spine of the baby.
The Birth Process
Viola Frymann, an American osteopathic doctor, studied over 1500 babies periodically over an eight year period. They were all examined within the first five days of birth and many were checked within the first 24 hours of birth.
This is what the study revealed:
• 10% of the newborn babies had perfect, freely mobile skulls or cranial mechanisms.
• 10% had severe trauma to the head, evident even to untrained observers.
• The remaining 80% all had some strain patterns in the cranial mechanism.
This means that 90% of these babies all had some sort of observable trauma to the head and neck region.
According to Gutmann, a researcher who examined the effects of the birth process, “The trauma from the birth process remains an under-publicized and therefore significantly under-treated problem.”
There are many factors that can cause birth trauma, including:
• false labor
• a long or very short labor
• failure of the mother’s cervix to dilate
• the use of drugs to increase contraction intensity
• the use of vacuum extraction or forceps
• Cesarean section delivery because of lack of progress
• cord around baby’s neck, incorrect positioning in the uterus or birth canal
• fetal distress
“Spinal cord and brain stem traumas often occur during the process of birth but frequently escape diagnosis. Infants often experience lasting neurological defects. Spinal trauma at birth is essentially attributed to longitudinal traction, especially when this force is combined with flexion and torsion of the spinal axis during delivery.”
Abraham Towbin MD
Spinal stress can result in varying problems. As adults we often experience pain and discomfort as the primary effect while secondary conditions are usually ignored. However, in infants, it is often these secondary conditions that are noticed first, especially since babies can’t tell us if or where something hurts. These secondary conditions are typically caused by the irritation on the nervous system due to the dysfunction in the spine, what we call subluxations.
Some of the secondary conditions we see caused by the nerve dysfunction from birth trauma look like this:
• trouble breathing
• digestive disorders
• difficulty nursing (impaired sucking / swallowing or head positioning)
• ear infections
• sleeping difficulty
• immunity deficits
• neurological impairment
Left uncorrected, subluxations and their resulting nerve dysfunction may develop into numerous health issues for the baby.
“Interference to the nervous system results in damage within a short period of time, therefore Chiropractic care should begin at birth on a preventive basis.”
Arpad De Nagy MD
Through specific adjustments, Chiropractic care is focused solely on correcting subluxations and removing nerve dysfunction (which improves brain-body communication) so a new baby can grow, develop and function at it’s highest potential. We are all born with an innate ability to heal; all a chiropractor does is help maximize the body’s inherent healing potential.
Safety and Effectiveness of Chiropractic
Chiropractic is a health care system that is founded on the premise that a proper functioning nervous system is essential to overall health and function of the human body. Chiropractic adjustments restore normal nerve function; improve spinal biomechanics, range of motion, reflex arcs, and posture, all of which are essential to a properly functioning nervous system. Clinical and case study research has demonstrated that correcting subluxations and removing nerve dysfunction can lead to an improvement and restoration of immune system function and overall health.
A study, published in the Chiropractic Research Journal, compared the health and wellness of 200 children under Chiropractic care to 200 children under conventional medical care. The Chiropractic group had fewer ear infections, fewer allergies, fewer cases of tonsillitis and asthma. The health of the children under Chiropractic care was demonstrably superior to the children who had not received it.
“Every newborn should receive a neck and spine examination and a chiropractic adjustment if necessary. Is that idea too difficult to accept?”
Lendon Smith MD
Chiropractic adjustments for newborns are much different than those performed on adults. Most of the time it just takes a light fingertip pressure on the baby’s back or neck to make the correction. It is very gentle, and typically a baby will be soothed by an adjustment, or even sleep through the process!
It is important to note that 65 percent of neurological development (i.e. development of the brain and nervous system) occurs in your child’s first year. This is why it is so imperative to ensure your baby has every opportunity to maximize his or her nerve function during this critical period.
This blog was written by Jason Dchluter, DC and was originally published on drschulter.com and can be found here.