Chiropractic and Newborns
How Chiropractic Helps Newborns,
By Dr. Ben Lerner
Birth is a normal, natural process that’s been around since the beginning of humanity. As with any other task the body was created to perform, when you support normal functioning, you have your best chance of success.
The road down the birth canal and out into the world can be a trying one, particularly in the case of medical intervention and high-tech births. (You may recall a Journal of the American Medical Association study showing the U.S. ranked last for neonatal mortality, infant mortality and the health of newborns.) As a result, there have been ever-increasing occurrences of traumatic birth syndrome.
Traumatic birth syndrome describes the presence of trauma-induced skull, spinal damage and spinal misalignment as a result of the birth process. Imagine going through it with a mother lying on her back, working against gravity and on medications to increase the intensity of labor and numb the delivery muscles. Combine that with common surgical interventions, and the birthing process becomes exponentially more traumatic.
And, when you think about it, it should be no surprise vertebral misalignment and/or damage of the spine in infants is a common reality.
During the pushing stage of labor, the spine may be injured as the fetus is compressed and pushed down the birth canal. The most frequent cause of misalignment in infants is the pulling, twisting and compression of the infant’s spine during birth, leading to respiratory depression and other illness.
If something alters the normal birth process, misalignments will frequently occur at the point of greatest stress (upper and lower cervical vertebrae). While in severe cases, these can result in more obvious, clinical nerve damage such as nerve palsies, more frequently misalignments remain subclinical, with health issues arising at a later time.
Catching Them Early
These issues can range from colic, sleep disorders and symptoms of lowered immunity to poor development and more. “Misalignments should be analysed and corrected as soon as possible after birth to prevent these associated conditions,” says pediatric expert Dr. Maxine McMullen.
These misalignments have been found to be severe enough to lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to the pressure they cause upward toward the lower brain (2-4) as well as creating numerous other disorders common to newborns, infants and young children. Reports show chiropractic care can be helpful in such diverse disorders as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, ear infections, the prevention of SIDS and others. (5)
While chiropractic care is not a treatment for anything, the benefits of adjusting misalignments to remove interference has been particularly telling in the case of small children. The facts show young people need chiropractic care as much as or more than anyone to maximize proper development and minimize the advent of common infant symptoms and disease.
One of the most interesting studies — based on the examination and adjustment of 1,000 infants — was done by Dr. Gutmann, a German physician. (5) He concluded blocked nerve impulses at the level of the first vertebrae can cause of central motor impairment and lower resistance to infections, especially those of the ear, nose and throat.(1)
One example of Dr. Gutmann’s published case studies describes an 18-month-old boy with early relapsing tonsillitis, frequent enteritis, drug therapy resistive conjunctivitis, frequent colds and earaches and increasing sleeping problems. After the first specific adjustment, the child was put to bed and slept peacefully until morning. The conjunctivitis cleared up completely, and his previously disturbed appetite returned to normal.
Dr. Gutmann’s research showed the 1,000 children treated had success, almost without exception, for a variety of ailments after spinal adjustments at the atlas. Symptoms to have responded favorably included the following:
Disturbed mental and especially linguistic development
Enteritis (inflammation of the intestine)
Unmotivated central seizures
Disturbed motor responses with repetitive falls
Distortion of ilio-sacral joint
Inability to thrive
“If the indications are correctly observed,” Dr. Gutmann said, “Chiropractic can often bring about amazingly successful results, because the therapy is a causal one. … With developmental disturbances of every kind, the atlanto-occipital joints should be examined and in each case be treated in a qualified manner. The success of this treatment eclipses every other attempt at treatment, including especially the use of medications.”
- McMullen, M. “Physical Stresses of Childhood that Could Lead to the Need for Chiropractic Care.” Proceedings of the National Confernce onChiropractic and Pediatarics, Sand Diego, California. Int. Chiropractors Assoc. 1991.
2. Towbin A. “Latent spinal cord and brain stem injury in newborn infants.” Develop Med Child Neurol. 1969 Feb: 11 (1): 54 — 68.
3. Biedermann J. “Kinematic Imbalances due to Suboccipital strain in newborns.” Medicine Springer-Verlag 1992, 151-156.
4. Koch LE, Biedermann H, Saternus KS. “High Cervical Stress and Apneoea.” Forensic Sci Int 1998 Oct 12;97 (1): 1-9.
5. Gutmann G. “Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Infants and Small Children.” Originally published in Manuelle Medizine, Springer-VErlag, 1987. English translation published in International Review of Chiropractic July/Aug 1990.
Dr. Tom Kelly
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