By Dr. Nicole Louw
MTech Chiropractic (UJ) MCASA
Is chiropractic safe for my children? Why should my child get checked, she feels fine? You have your children’s teeth checked, and most schools do an eye and hearing exam yearly, so why don’t you have regular health check ups? Children’s bodies are physically weaker than adults, so they have a better chance of experiencing spinal subluxations (a vertebrae out of place that is pinching a nerve and causing problems) while doing every day activities. Why wait till your child is sick to bring them into the chiropractor? Subluxations can exist for a long time without causing any pain, but deficiencies in other areas, while they may not be noticeable, may be present the entire time.
Let’s start from the beginning. The very beginning, before your child is even born. You should be receiving spinal checkups as often as weight check ups. Subluxations cause uneven blood flow to parts of your body, including the uterus. If your baby isn’t getting enough blood, they may not be getting enough oxygen, which is more important during the development process than you think. Lack of oxygen to the uterus can cause several complications early in infancy, which could lead to such tragic events as SIDS. Next we’ll look at when the baby is born.
A newborn’s spine can be twisted and turned from birth. As hard as labor is on the mother, think of how hard it is on the baby! Abraham Towbin, MD states: “The birth process…is potentially a traumatic, crippling event… mechanical stress imposed on obstetrical manipulation—even the application of standard orthodox procedures may prove intolerable to the foetus…most signs of neonatal injury observed in the delivery room are neurological…” Now, we’ll look at the infants first week.
Research is ongoing, and with each study done, more and more credit is being given to chiropractic health care in the importance of the health of children. In a study done on 1,250 infants who were examined five days after birth, 211 of them were experiencing vomiting, hyperactivity, and sleeplessness, and subluxations were found in 95% of them. The researchers in this study were all Medical Doctors (MD’s) and they all recognised the power of chiropractic. The babies were given the spinal care they needed, and it worked. The researchers (remember, these are MD’s we’re talking about) noted that the spinal adjustment resulted in “immediate quieting, cessation of crying, and muscular relaxation and sleepiness.”
Chiropractic and Colic
Colic. One of the worst words a parent of a newborn can hear. Your baby cries for hours on end and there is nothing you can do about it. What’s worse than the disturbing, high pitched screaming that doesn’t stop and has no apparent cause, is the fact that there is nothing you can do to help your child when it sounds like they need help the most. It’s heartbreaking to hear your baby screaming like it’s in pain, and being able to do nothing about it. Well, almost nothing. This is where chiropractic comes in.
If your baby experienced a longer pushing stage, or any type of assisted delivery (i.e. – forceps, vacuum, etc.) there is a good chance that they have subluxations. Babies with significant enough subluxations, or subluxations in certain areas, may have big problems, and they can’t tell you about them. Because of these subluxations, major systems in the body may not function correctly, such as the digestive system, and your baby may not be able to digest breast milk like he or she should, possibly causing gas and bloating. The flexed legs, clenched fists, and tensed abdominal
muscles point to a pain in the abdominal region, but that hasn’t been proven.
What has been proven, however, is that chiropractic adjustments can work. Medical doctors (those you would find at a hospital) may prescribe dimethicone drops, or gas drops, that are the standard, and vastly ineffective treatment. Others may say it’s a sensitivity to breast milk and may advise providing a lactose-free milk, which has also proven to be ineffective.
Studies done at the University of Southern Denmark have reported that colicky babies who received chiropractic care cried far less than those receiving the standard gas drops prescribed by medical doctors. This study was done on behalf of the National Health Service, and found chiropractic to have no negative side effects on infants, which is “standard” for chiropractic! Another study was done in South Africa, by Mercer and Cook. In this study, 30 infants who were medically diagnosed as having colic, were randomly divided into two groups. One group received chiropractic care while the other did not. Each infant in the study was 0-8 weeks old and diagnosed with colic by a paediatrician. For this study, the group who received chiropractic care received it for two weeks with a six adjustment maximum.
The results were impressive. In the group who received chiropractic care, 93% had completely resolved symptoms in just the two week period. A little shorter than the “wait 3 months for it to run its course” plan that most medical doctors will tell you. Something even more impressive was the one month follow up assessment. The infants who received chiropractic care had seen no symptoms one month after receiving chiropractic care.
For those of you who don’t feel comfortable relying on studies done in different countries (although much medical research comes from other countries), here is one from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. It is a randomised clinical trial published in 1999, and in this study, researchers assigned infants diagnosed with colic into two groups, one to receive chiropractic care for two weeks and the other to receive the popular (and basically ineffective) anti-gas medication dimethicone for two weeks. The babies receiving chiropractic treatment showed a decrease of 68% in crying, while the other group only showed a decrease of 38%.
Chiropractic care is a conservative, gentle, and very successful option for treating infants with colic. Chiropractic adjustments for infants are specific, gentle, and safe. In the hands of an experienced chiropractor, many infants sleep right through the adjustment. An infant adjustment utilises no more pressure than someone applying make up to their face. Next time you are told “there is nothing you can do except wait it out,” just smile, nod, and bring your child right to the chiropractor, because a healthy baby makes a happy home.