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When to Have a Newborn Checked by a Chiropractor

One of the biggest questions we get asked regularly when people come into our office and see all the pictures of the kids that get adjusted is: “Why would you adjust a newborn baby?”

Research shows that the upper cervical region (where the base of the head and neck come together) is especially vulnerable during the first months & years of life for two reasons:

  1. The of weight of the head is such a large percentage of the newborn baby’s total size and weight.
  2. Muscle control and strength of the neck and body that is required to support the weight of the head has yet to develop in a newborn.

Taken together, these two factors leave the upper neck region prone to misalignment, injury, restricted motion, and dysfunction–which, together, are known as a “subluxation.”

Furthermore, a baby’s upper neck structures are delicate and undergo considerable stress, even during an uncomplicated labor & delivery!

Why is this part of the spine so important? Throughout development, the upper neck region is of critical importance when it comes to a child’s development of spatial awareness, balance, coordination and motor control of the entire body. In fact, the process and completion of brain development requires consistent communication from the joints and muscles specifically of the upper neck to the brain. (Unfortunately, proper development DOESN’T happen if these important joints are left subluxated!)

These spinal joints at the top of the neck require a consistent full range of motion and support beyond infancy and throughout childhood and adolescence, otherwise neuro-developmental delays or deficits can reach further on into adulthood.

So what causes these subluxations (which again are spinal misalignments with motion restriction, and nervous system dysfunction), and what are the signs and symptoms of an upper cervical subluxation?

The common causes and risk factors are:
– Long labor
– Any type of extraction of the baby, be it vacuum, forceps, etc.
– Having multiples: twins or triplets, etc.
– Any type of prenatal positional anomalies, for example breech babies.

The things for parents to look for *after* birth are:
– Torticollis–where the neck muscles contract and cause the head to twist or lean to one side a consistent Reduced Range of Motion in the head or neck, this can be seen as favoring rotation of the head to one side more than the other.
– Extreme sensitivity of the head or neck to touch.
– Cranial asymmetry, or having one side of the head shaped differently than the other.
– General restlessness or colic.
– Sleeping disorders where the baby often wakes up crying during the night.
– Inability to smoothly control head movements.
– Delayed physical skills like rolling over, sitting, standing, and walking.
– At the other end of the spine: look for restrictions of the joints by the tailbone, or asymmetries of the gluteus muscles, hips and pelvis.

That’s not even the full list, but all of these problems are often connected to a subluxation of the child’s upper cervical spine!

Medical research suggests that even minor signs of cervical subluxation in babies, infants and toddlers should be checked and treated because, once again, they can cause significant development issues and therefore require much more extensive treatment in later years.

We always say in the office that it’s better to keep kids healthy than try to fix broken adults!

We love adjusting kids of all ages in our office and regularly hear parents say things like, ‘my child sleeps, or eats, or behaves much better since they started getting adjusted!’ or my child is ‘a completely different child altogether,’ since getting adjusted!

Adjusting a child’s spine is very different from adjusting an adult’s. Adjusting a child is a very soft and gentle procedure–with newborns we use specific techniques to glide a joint through restriction and back into proper movement and allow for better function.;

In fact, all 3 of our own children were checked and adjusted within their first hour of ‘life on the outside.’

We feel it’s so important that kids get get checked for subluxations that it’s our office policy that the children (ages 17 and under) of established patients in our office can also get checked for subluxations as a part of the parent’s start up fee.

If everything looks great, we will give you the good news! If we find subluxations, we are happy to make the appropriate recommendations to help your whole family have its best health!

We see it time and again in the kids we adjust in the office, they are consistently healthier and safer than the kids who aren’t getting checked and adjusted regularly. We feel every child should have the chiropractic advantage, and we’d be happy to check your child’s spine!

If you’d like to learn more, give our office a call! We are here to help!