It may sound crazy to take a newborn to a chiropractor, but getting all those little bones in alignment can make a huge difference in your little one's mood and general health. We asked Dr. Crystal Green, DC, CACCP, of Green Family Chiropractic about pediatric adjustments and how to tell if your baby needs one.
First off, why would a baby need chiropractic adjustment?
"As you know, labor can be very stressful on Mom and Baby. The pressure from contractions puts a lot of stress on the head and neck of the baby. Especially if baby is not lined up perfectly straight. Ninety-nine percent of infants have a cervical subluxation directly after birth. This goes for all methods of delivering. Both C-section and vaginal birth have equal chances of having a misalignment."
How often do you work with babies and perform adjustments?
"Pediatrics are over a third of my practice. Often times we work with a mother through her pregnancy and we encourage her to have the baby checked after delivery. We work with babies every single day to make sure they get off to the best start they can. Typically for a baby that has no concerns, adjustments once every few weeks to a month will suffice. If there are concerns, we will see a baby more often until those concerns resolved."
In what ways could the spine or joints being out of alignment affect a baby and how does that manifest?
"When the spine is out of alignment it puts pressure on to the nervous system. This can include the brain or the nerves that go into the organs. Any type of pressure decreases the function of the organ that it innervates. For instance, if you have pressure going into the nerve that innervates the colon, you can get decreased function or fewer bowel movements. This could be symptoms such as constipation, gas or colic.
Misalignments can manifest in many different ways in a child. It can be anything from more fussiness to an actual symptom. This can include spitting up, ear infections, bed-wetting, misshaped head, colic, trouble latching during nursing and constipation. Chiropractic can help regulate the nervous system to keep pressure off the system and allow your body to work at 100 percent. If you have a child (or adult) that has never been checked, they aren't working at their optimal level."
It's a very gentle treatment. A lot of children sleep through the adjustment and most kids love getting treatment!
What are some signs that your baby might need an adjustment?
"It's recommended that babies get checked soon after delivery. For myself, I make hospital or home visits for families to make it convenient. This prevents a lot of the common problems we see in infancy. It also allows brain function to be at its optimal level. Signs would be a change in temperament, sleep patterns, runny nose or congestion, not using you the body equally side to side, constantly turning the head to one direction, not nursing or latching properly, having constant spitting up, plus many, many more."
Can you give me some common misconceptions people have about doing adjustments on babies?
"The assumption for most is that an infant adjustment is similar to an adult adjustment. This is very incorrect. In infants we use very light pressure to check and correct misalignments. It's a very gentle treatment. A lot of children sleep through the adjustment and most kids love getting treatment! And they know that it makes them feel better, so they ask for it!
Unfortunately, there's a big gap in healthcare, where a lot of pediatricians don't understand how an adjustment can affect the baby. So for some it's not having support from their pediatricians. Another assumption that I hear often is that once you start going to a chiropractor, you have to keep going. This is incorrect in part but correct in part. We help educate patients on what the body's correct function is. So we teach them how to recognize incorrect function which means the need for an adjustment. So for those that use their body, I they should be getting adjusted regularly as we only get one spine and that can't be replaced."
What are some common concerns you hear about pediatric chiropractic?
"The biggest concern I hear from families is the safety. Like stated above, it's a very gentle pressure and the adjustment is very effective. With that said though, all chiropractors are not created equal here. There is specific training that a chiropractor must go through for Pediatric. For a pediatric chiropractor like myself, this is a must. But unfortunately not all chiropractors do the training and have the skill sets that I do.
Babies are not just little adults, so they shouldn't be adjusted like so. Their bone structure is much different because they aren't completely bone yet—which makes their joints move much differently. The other area of concern is our special needs population. There are things that we will not do for certain kids. For instance, with Down syndrome there tends to be an instability in the upper cervical area. So we have to be very careful and specific when we work with patients that have Down syndrome."
Are there any risks associated with doing an adjustment on a baby?
Not really! For some babies, as we're working through issues, they will get an increase of symptoms temporarily. But as we get the pressure and stress off of the system their body regulates and calms down.