Birth is a normal, natural process that has been around since the beginning of humanity. As with any other task the body was created to perform, when you support normal function, you have your best chance at 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. (Recall the JAMA study showing that the U.S. ranked last for neonatal mortality, infant mortality, and for the health of newborns.) As a result, there has been an ever-increasing occurrence 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. As tough as birth is, going through it with the woman lying on her back, working against gravity, on medications to increase the intensity of labor and numb the delivery muscles, often accompanied by surgical interventions, makes it exponentially more traumatic. When you think about this, it is no surprise that vertebral subluxation (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 subluxation 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, you will frequently have subluxations 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 subluxations remain subclinical with health issues rising at a later time. These issues can be colic, sleep disorders, symptoms of lowered immunity, poor development, and more. Pediatric expert, Dr. Maxine McMullen states, “Subluxations should be analyzed and corrected as soon as possible after birth to prevent these associated conditions.”1
These subluxations have been found to be severe enough to lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) due to the pressure they cause upward towards the lower brain(2-4) as well as creating numerous other disorders common to newborns, infants, and young children. Reports show that chiropractic care can be helpful in such diverse disorders as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, ear infections, the prevention of SIDS, and the others.(5-11).
While chiropractic care is not a treatment for anything, the benefits of adjusting subluxation to remove interference has been particularly telling in the case of small children.
The facts show that 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 examination and adjustment of one thousand infants, was done by Dr. Gutmann,12 a German physician.5 He concluded that blocked nerve impulses at the level of the first vertebrae can be the 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 a boy of eighteen months with early relapsing tonsillitis, frequent enteritis, drug therapy resistive conjunctivitis, frequent colds, earaches and sleeping problems. After the first specific adjustment, the child was put to bed and slept peacefully until morning. The conjunctivitis cleared completely, and the previously disturbed appetite returned to normal.
Dr. Gutmann’s research showed that the 1,000 children treated had success, almost without exception, for a variety of ailments by spinal adjustments at the atlas. Symptoms to have responded favorably include: congenital torticollis, disturbed mental and especially linguistic development, recurrent rhinitis, bronchitis tonsillitis, enteritis (inflammation of the intestine), persistent conjunctivitis, restless sleep, unmotivated central seizures, cerebral spasms, disturbed motor responses with repetitive falls, Infantile scoliosis, distortion of ilio-sacral joint,
growing pains, appetite disturbance, and inability to thrive.
“If the indications are correctly observed,” states Dr. Gutmann, “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 manually in a qualified manner. The success of this treatment eclipses every other attempt at treatment, including especially the use of medications.”5
1; McMullen, M. “Physical Stresses of Childhood that Could Lead to the Need for Chiropractic Care.” Proceedings of the National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics, 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 sub occipital 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