Should your baby be checked by a Chiropractor?

Mother, Baby & Child Magazine, April 2011

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Your infant is crying constantly and your paediatrician is telling you “to wait it out” or else prescribing an acid reflux medicine with alarming possible side effects for reflux and colic. Chiropractic medicine may just be the alternative you’re looking for…

What They Do

Dr Pamela Leader, Managing Director and Chiropractor in Chiropractic Dubai, says that in order to understand how chiropractic can help a child suffering chronic ear infections for example, it is paramount to understand the effect of chiropractic adjustment on the nervous system and immune system. “A chiropractor would never say to anyone that they can cure ear infections,” notes Dr Leader, “|n fact, what I am expert at doing is examining the spine and its muscles from the top of the neck to the bottom of the spine, and detecting and correcting any of the spinal joints which are not functioning properly.” As chiropractors, this can actually be done at all ages, from birth onwards. By correcting the mechanics of any poorly functioning segments of the spine, Dr Leader emphasises that we stimulate the nervous system, which in turn has an effect on the immune system.
“Additionally, the spinal correction helps with the mechanical drainage of fluid, which may collect in the chi|d’s ear and be prone to infection,”she says, adding, “|n these ways a chiropractor can assist the child’s own defences to fight the next infection if it should occur.” However, she points out that mothers are always advised to continue seeing their chi|d’s paediatrician and in this way the child can be co-managed by both healthcare experts.

How It Works

In many of the positive effects of chiropractic on children and babies, Dr Leader explains that the adjustments have their effect through the autonomic nervous system. “This is the part of our nervous system which controls all the automatic bodily functions, such as digestion,” she says and this is the case with infantile colic, a problem affecting many young babies. “When my older patients realise that I have been treating a baby or child, they often say, ‘How do you know if the baby has a spinal problem?’ Or, ‘What could be wrong with a small child’s spine?’ ”

Indication

Why do mothers take their babies to a chiropractor? One reason, says Dr Leader is colic. “The baby cries continuously, despite all the usual efforts to calm him. Clean, fed and cuddle but still screaming sometimes for hours and often pulls knees up to chest,” she says, advising, “Two to four treatments of gentle adjustments to the mid back and upper neck usually resolves the problem and calms the digestive system.” Research in Denmark (1999), which validated chiropractic treatment for colic, has made this the treatment of choice in Europe and the US, she says. “Another indication for chiropractic treatment is KISS syndrome, which means Kinematic imbalances of the Suboccipital Spine,” she says and this is essentially a collection of subtle symptoms, indicating that a baby has problems in the upper neck, which could later result in developmental and biomechanical problems.
Yet another indication is constipation and other digestive problems such as regurgitating food, or difficulty sucking. “A wry neck, where the baby has his or her neck turned or leaning to one side and also a poor sleeping pattern or unsettled sleep are also reasons why mothers bring their babies to visit us,” she says.

Birth

Even though a baby may have perfectly working spinal joints and alignment, being in the womb, Dr Leader suggests that in the final months he or she may have been in a restricted position, especially if not perfectly positioned. “If the birth was not ideal, such as too fast or too slow labour, being stuck in the birth canal, C-section birth, or suction/forceps were needed, the forces on the baby’s neck or spine may have been excessive,” she says and for these reasons, the delicate spinal joints could be imbalanced or fixed in a less than ideal position. The only way the baby has of telling us that something is wrong, explains Dr Leader, is to cry or not settle well to sleep. “|n fact most of our patients who know about chiropractic, bring their newborns to us for a check up as soon as they are able to come,” she says.

Older children

As babies grow to infants and children and teens, mothers often have worries about their children, she says as their spines are as important as their teeth and should be checked regularly as many of their patients do.
“Sitting up alone, crawling and walking are important milestones at which your chiropractor will want to check your child’s spine,” she notes, adding, “Some of the problems we treat gently and successfully with chiropractic at our clinic include ADHD, ear infections, frequent colds, bed wetting, headaches, postural problems, flat feet, wry neck, back pain, and scoliosis checks.”

SOS Campaign

It is worrying that “bad habits” such as texting, playing hand held games and sitting at computers, especially laptops, added to the carrying of heavy backpacks may be affecting the long term posture and health of our children, asserts Dr Leader. “Flat feet partially arising from inactivity and excess weight are also extremely common here in Dubai,” she says, and prevention is better than cure but once flat feet are diagnosed, custom made orthotics can help prevent knock on effects on the rest of the body. “At Chiropractic Dubai we are currently conducting a SOS (save our spines) campaign and we have so far checked the spines and scanned the feet of over 1000 school children,” Dr Leader explains, pointing out, “We check for scoliosis and other spinal problems and scan the feet with our computerised system.” The results are quite alarming. The younger age group, she notes, has fewer problems with their posture and feet than those over 11 years old. “We begin to see forward head posture and rounded shoulders in a few eight year olds but in the secondary age group the numbers are huge,” she concludes.