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Children and Infants

It is wise to consider what chiropractic care can offer your baby or child.

Frequently, people only think about what a chiropractic physician can do for adults...such as helping resolve a back or neck problem. Yet people of all ages may be helped by chiropractic!

Babies and children grow quickly, and their muscles, ligaments and bones develop rapidly. Because of this, they may particularly benefit from a drugless, painless and surgically free approach to good health. The goal of chiropractic is to help allow the body to best function and repair itself. Here are a few of the ways this practical care may be helpful to your child.

It's an incredible fact that 40-50 pounds of pressure are exerted on the infant's neck during the birth process. The baby's head is forced to rotate by 90 degrees while contractions squeeze their small frame.1 This stress, combined with the weight of the baby's head, puts considerable pressure on the neck, spine, nerves and muscles.2

Such trauma may contribute to several painful conditions often found in babies.3 Symptoms can begin in the first months of an infant's life and may plague a child throughout the early years. Early detection of any musculoskeletal distress may be beneficial.

Fortunately, your doctor of chiropractic may offer help for your baby - and peace of mind for you.


Signs to watch for include posture signals such as:4

  • tilting the head
  • neck sensitivity
  • inability to lie on their back
  • crying when moved out of their favorite sleeping position
  • difficulty in breast feeding
  • limited motion (perhaps with a leg or an arm)
  • a bent body position
  • unusual differences in the appearance of one side of the body from the other (such as one hip being higher)

Swelling, pain or constant crying and irritability are also signs of distress that should be evaluated, along with any unusual problems with eating, sleeping or playing.

Because babies and children are less able to tell you exactly what hurts, you may find your chiropractic's skills especially welcome in being able to access your child's overall health and physical structure. As a trained professional with a minimum of six years of college study, your practitioner of chiropractic can offer sensitive, professional diagnosis and skilled, safe care as warranted.

In addition to possible musculoskeletal disorders such as restricted motion or postural problems, there is growing evidence to suggest that your chiropractor's special skills may also be helpful when evaluating the following condition.

Approximately 20% of all babies will suffer colic.5 Colic is believed to be a baby's response to pain - although the exact cause of colic is not known.6 (It has also been found that some pain which mimics colic may be due to spinal joint pain which your chiropractor can assess.)7

An encouraging new study from Denmark suggest that chiropractic may be helpful to infants with colic even when more traditional treatments had failed. The data included 316 babies treated by 73 chiropractors in 50 different clinics. Improvement was reported in more than 90% of these children.8

References 1.Biedermann H (1992) "Kinematic Imbalances Due to Suboccipital Strain in Newborns", Manual Med 6:155
2. Ref 1 supra
3.Ref 1 supra
4. Ref 1 supra, 151
5. Klougart N et al (1989) "Infantile Colic Treated by Chiropractors: A prospective Study of 316 Cases", J Manipulative Physio Ther, 12:281-288
6. "Infantile Colic: A New Study from Denmark," (1989) The Chiropractic Report; Vol4,1 ed Chapman-Smith, 1
7. Ref 6 supra, 5
8. Ref5 supra, 1; Ref 6 supra, 2

Everyone's spine has natural curves. These curves round our shoulders and make our lower back curve slightly inward. But some people have spines that also curve from side to side. This condition is called "scoliosis".

Scoliosis affects one in nine young women and approximately four percent of the total population. It is the most deforming orthopedic problem confronting children, affecting them during their active growth phase and essentially subsiding upon completion of spinal growth, leaving the child with a permanent deformity.

Early detection and treatment can be effective in halting or slowing its progress and in many cases result in improvement.

How a Child's Spine Develops

At birth, a child's spine is a single curve, shaped like a C; the newborn lacks the strength to hold up his or her head. At about six months, neck muscles develop and help the infant hold up his head. At about nine months, the lower back curves, the muscles in the lumbar area develop and the child learns to crawl and stand. The child now has the strength and balance to walk and run. Like an adult, the child now has three natural curves in the spine to support the body.

As they learn to walk and run, children fall, and can suffer strains and sprains as a result. Detecting these problems at a young age is critical for the proper development of your childís spine. Many postural problems and back pains we experience as adults frequently are traced back to falls as children or a traumatic childbirth. Having your childís spine checked by a chiropractor at a young age is important for proper development of the bones of the spine.

Ear infections, bed-wetting, hyperactivity, chronic colds and other health problems may be the result of nervous system interference or malfunction caused by spine-related problems. Appropriate chiropractic care can restore normal spinal and nervous system function. When the nervous system is functioning properly, chiropractors discover that many health problems resolve themselves.

How You Can Help

  • Provide a firm bed.
  • Insure your child has a well-balanced diet.
  • Teach your child not to slouch.
  • Use an approved car seat that supports your child's head and neck.
  • When lifting a baby, always support the back and neck with your hands. Pick up an older child by grasping his body under the arms.
  • Donít put young children in walkers prior to the child learning how to walk on their own. This could put pressure on the lower vertebra of the spine and cause a fracture if the spine is not ready for the force of gravity.
  • Avoid the devices that allow a young child to bounce in a seat (the units that attach to an entryway). This may also cause a fracture of the spine if the childís spine is not properly developed.
  • Discourage friends from throwing your child in the air as this can cause a whiplash injury to the neck.
  • And of course, schedule a regular spinal check-up with a chiropractor trained in pediatric chiropractic to ensure that your child's spine is developing properly!!


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