When I tell people that I specialize in pediatrics or they see me adjusting children and babies in my practice, their initial reaction is often one of surprise. I often get the question “Why do they need to be adjusted? They cannot possibly have anything wrong.” Parents need to know that their child is never too young to be adjusted. The earliest challenge or stress a growing spine faces is the position it adopts in the womb.
Spinal nerve stress in newborns is more common than previously realized. This stress can be caused by physical, chemical and/or emotional stress. Many women will have heard of fetal positions that can cause problems with labor. What is less well known is that these fetal positions can also place physical stress on the baby’s spine. If this position is less than optimal, it can result in a longer and more difficult trip through the birth canal, which can introduce great stress to the infant’s skull, spinal column and pelvis. Interventions such as induction, forceps, suction, or caesarean section can actually create additional traumas and compromises to the infant’s future health and well-being.
It’s important for all mother’s to recognize that any stress, not just fetal positioning, encountered during her pregnancy will translate to her growing baby. While in the womb, baby’s brains develop in direct response to the mom’s experience of the world. If a mom is overwhelmed by anxiety or stress during her pregnancy, the “message” communicated to her baby through stress hormones is that they are in an unsafe environment, regardless of whether or not the information is true. The baby’s brain will actually adapt to prepare for the arrival into this unsafe environment. Chronic stress in pregnancy tends to sculpt a brain that is quick to react, have reduced impulse control and a decreased capacity to remain calm and content. Chronic joy, on the other hand, allows for the optimal development of each organ, the brain in particular, predisposing the baby to greater health and serenity. Such traits constitute the foundations of lifelong personality.
Chemical stress to the baby is brought on by poor nutrition from the mother. I once heard an expecting mom make the comment that her baby was craving chocolate so she needed to eat chocolate. I’m not saying that you can’t indulge every once in awhile but just like we need to put good, nutrient rich foods into our bodies to be healthy, growing babies need the same. We now know there is a strong link between poor gestational nutrition and diabetes. Could it be possible that we create the sugar “addiction” that is seen in so many children even before they are born?
The cause of many newborn health complaints such as colic, reflux, breastfeeding difficulties, sleep disturbances, allergic reactions, and chronic infections can be traced to nervous system irritation caused by spinal and cranial misalignments.
Throughout childhood, experiences, like falling down and bumps to the head can also be a source of spinal and cranial trauma. Most of the time, the pain from the initial injury “goes away” however the damage suffered continues to affect the future function of the child’s nervous system.
In addition, many developmental milestones such as learning to hold up the head, sitting upright, crawling, and walking are all activities that are affected by spinal alignment.
Unless a child has an obvious problem it can be difficult for a parent to recognize when a child’s spine may be placing undue stress on the nervous system. There are some signs, which can be indicative of these problems. These include:
- disturbed sleeping patterns
- breastfeeding difficulties in the very young
- restricted head or neck movement to one side
- one shoulder higher than the other
- recurrent ear infections
- persistent sore throats and colds
- bedwetting and/or constipation
- growing pains
Symptoms or not, parents should have their child’s spine checked by a chiropractor.
The first thing a chiropractor will do is conduct a thorough history of your child’s health and any complaints. This is followed by a complete physical examination of the child’s spine.
Chiropractic care is ‘tailored’ to the individual and their particular spine, and children are no exception. At Sandstone Chiropractic, we offer specific, gentle adjustments appropriate to the infant’s and child’s spine.
Spinal adjustments for infants and young children involve very light fingertip pressure to correct spinal misalignments. This amount of force is often not more than a finger touch. This is usually sufficient to reduce stress and restore function to the areas of the spine causing interference to the nervous system. Other techniques involve the use of hand-held instruments, which offer specific and gentle correction.
As chiropractors, we don’t ask ourselves how we are going to “fix” your kids because we don’t think that they’re broken. We ask ourselves what has gotten in the way of your child’s natural ability to express his or her optimum health potential.
To make sure your child gets the best possible start in life, give them the gift of chiropractic!