Case Study: pediatric chiropractic care can be critical after difficult births
IT’S 7:40 A.M. ON A FRIDAY MORNING, and as I walk up to the front door of my office I am met by a distraught mother holding a crying two-week-old baby girl, “Ana.” I kindly greet the new mother and can tell by the look in her tired eyes that she has been praying for this moment and the hope of some answers for her daughter.
After my staff helps her complete the usual pediatric intake forms she and the baby are brought into a room for consultation and examination. I am informed by the mother that she had a complicated delivery in which the baby was “stuck” in the birth canal and had to be quickly delivered via vacuum-assisted delivery. Baby Ana had a visible caput succedaneum, was in discomfort and instantly started to cry when anyone tried to touch her face or neck.
The mother states that the baby has been placed on medication for the past two weeks as she cries incessantly and only manages to sleep 20-30 minutes at a time, which usually happens only under heavy sedation from medication. The mother goes on to state that Ana seems to have no head control and can’t turn her head to the right without bloodcurdling, shrieking screams. The hospitalists are calling it “extreme torticollis” and are even suggesting surgery to cut the child’s sternocleidomastoid muscles so the baby can rotate her head. Lastly, the mother states that breastfeeding has been nearly impossible, and the baby does not latch.
As she hands me this precious little 8-pound baby she says, “Doctor Beau, you are our last hope.”
As I examine the screaming and crying baby, I gently palpate the upper cervical area and find a severely subluxated left lateral atlas, not to mention other cervical vertebral subluxations and a very hypertonic left sternocleidomastoid muscle. After informing and explaining my findings with the mother I ask to adjust the baby. Using a sustained contact with my middle finger on the left atlas I very gently adjust the atlas. Within just a few seconds I feel a major shift and the baby’s eyes widen.
As I look down upon the child’s face, I remove my hands and almost instantly the room falls silent. I look up to the locked eyes of the mother upon me and we both seem to be frozen in time. I can tell she is thinking, “What will happen next?” We both are motionless for what seems like hours but is most likely no more than 30 seconds. The mother walks over and picks up the baby and embraces the child. As the mother kisses Ana’s face she looks up at me with tears running down her face and says, “Thank you. This is the first time in two weeks she has not cried. She looks so peaceful.”
Within minutes, the baby falls into a tranquil sleep in her mother’s arms and I inform the mother that we will follow up in a few days for a checkup.
I telephone the mother that evening and the next day to check on her progress. The mother reports the baby slept 14 hours the night of the adjustment and the next day she reports little to no episodic crying throughout the day. She even notes the baby has been breastfeeding without incident.
To make a long story short, baby Ana did not need surgery. After a couple of adjustments over the course of the next few weeks she completely stopped all her medications, stopped having colic issues, regained full control of her head movement, her caput rescinded, and she is now a happy and growing little girl.
Why do I find it so important to tell you this story? Because all across the world right now, especially in places like Australia, providing pediatric chiropractic care to newborn babies like Ana is under scrutiny. Some are calling chiropractic care unscientific and unneeded.
Some of the latest research follows so DCs can be better informed the next time a mother or father asks, “What can chiropractic do for my child?”
According to the American Chiropractic Association, pediatric chiropractic care is on the rise. The number of kids under chiropractic care has more than doubled to 68 million visits annually. Jeanne Ohm of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) states, “Chiropractic care for children offers a family a solid foundation for wellness. Throughout pregnancy, birth and childhood, the chiropractic lifestyle offers choices and benefits for the child’s greater health and well-being.”
Research is also backing up what Ohm is saying. A survey study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Research compared 200 chiropractors’ and 200 pediatricians’ patients to uncover any differences in the health status of children raised, respectively, by chiropractors or pediatricians.
The analysis indicates there is “a definite correlation between chiropractic and superior health.” In fact, this study “has shown that children raised under chiropractic care are less prone to infectious processes such as otitis media and tonsillitis, and that their immune systems are better able to cope with allergens such as pollen, weeds, grasses, etc., compared to children raised under allopathic care.”
Newborn babies and colic
As discussed earlier, a baby with birth trauma or simply a baby with colic who cries several hours a day can make many new parents feel helpless. With nearly 15 percent of newborn babies being diagnosed with colic, the common condition is actually very treatable.
Chiropractic is a safe and natural way to ease colic symptoms and reduce the amount of crying by 50 percent. The long-term benefits of chiropractic care to treat infant colic, such as fewer incidences of waking up at night and temper tantrums, were also documented. According to a study in MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, results show a correlation between chiropractic intervention at the infant stage and improvements in sleep, reduction in discomfort and pain, and improved feeding.
Decreased antibiotic usage
There is also a significantly decreased history of antibiotic use among “chiropractic” children, indicating a lower susceptibility to bacterial infections as a result of their greater immune system response.
But the benefits of chiropractic do not stop at allergies and ear infections. As a child continues to grow we see major health changes, for the positive, for those under chiropractic care:
Increase in sports performance — Any parent of a child who plays sports is always looking for a competitive edge to make their child a better athlete. A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation reported that in just 12 weeks, athletes who were under chiropractic care improved their agility, balance, kinesthetic perception, power and reaction time by 30%.
Decreased anxiety, better learning retention — Many parents are now taking their children to a chiropractor as studies are also showing that children who are under chiropractic care have less anxiety and are more attentive in school. There is also a growing body of evidence suggesting children with ADHD are showing a reduction in symptoms once under chiropractic care.
Long-term health benefits — Many parents are taking their children to the chiropractor because studies have shown that getting adjusted leads to increased quality of life and long-term spinal health benefits.
Childhood issues such as scoliosis, growing pains and asthma are all being reported as improved once a child is under chiropractic care.
So the next time anyone raises questions about chiropractic care for newborns and children, the above-mentioned research should help further the conversation and bring more clarity to the benefits of chiropractic care for children of all ages.
BEAU PIERCE, DC, is an in-practice doctor in Santa Maria, Calif., at Pierce Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center. He is also the founder of Circle of Docs, the largest digital community of chiropractors, and enjoys spending his time living an active lifestyle and raising his two children Bryce and Ashlyn. For more info or to contact him go to circleofdocs.com.