By Dr. Risa M. Sloves

Dear Future Parents of a Newborn,

Congratulations!  Being a parent myself I can imagine how filled with happiness you must be with the upcoming arrival of your new baby.  I also know that you are somewhat in awe of the responsibilities of being a new parent and perhaps even a little frightened with the possibility that you may not know all you need to know to be a parent.  I can tell you from experience that these feelings are normal.  I can also tell you from experience that there may be one aspect of your new baby’s well-being that you haven’t considered and it is important.  You see, in addition to being a parent of two teenage daughters, I am also a Chiropractic Physician and I have special training in the evaluation of babies.  I am 1 of approximately 150 chiropractic physicians worldwide and 1 of only 10 in Connecticut who has completed a 3 year post-doctorate degree to become Board Certified in Pediatric and Maternity Care.  Although the majority of my patients are pre- and post-natal moms and children, I know that many other parents have not yet been to a chiropractor or taken their children for their first chiropractic evaluation.  So, if you would like to learn more about the impact a chiropractor could have on your child’s development, please read on.

Here are some of the compelling reasons to have your newborn baby checked chiropractically: 

  1. Chiropractors check for subluxations which are tiny misalignments of the spine, cranium, and pelvis which cause upset to the normal functioning of the baby’s nervous system.  These subluxations are by their very nature harmful and no other health professional is trained to detect them.  Subluxations in the young often do not result in pain.  They can go completely unnoticed by the parent or they may express themselves subtly (as in decreased immune response or decreased alertness) or they may express themselves overtly (as in the case of colic or ear problems).
  2. Subluxations detected and corrected in the young will benefit not only the function (physiology) of the child but also the actual growth of tissues and organs.  The analogy that is most meaningful to myself is that of a growing onion.  The onion actually grows from a tiny seed and concentric layering occurs as growth progresses.  If there is a small piece of grit or sand close to the center of the onion, the distortion caused by that foreign speck will be experienced in all the outer layers.
  3. Some subluxations, if not corrected in the first year of life can never be fully corrected.  Within the cranium (skull) at birth there are supporting membranes.  These can be distorted by abnormal molding of the cranium caused by either unbalanced forces on the cranium before the birth or by forces introduced during the birthing process.  The reality is that these membranes begin to grow into solid bone about the time of the baby’s first birthday.  If the correction is not made in the first year, it may be impossible to fully correct the problem later.
  4. All subluxations should be detected and corrected as soon as possible because if they are not permanent damage to the joints themselves will occur.  Research by a Dr. Tapio Vidman shows that if joints (for example of the spine) are not functioning or moving properly for more than two weeks, there will be some irreparable damage done to the joint surfaces at the cellular level.
  5. Subluxations have been shown to be associated with health conditions in infants and children and can often be treated safely without the use of medications, surgery or other invasive procedures.  Some of the most common conditions that I see children in my office for include subluxations associated with colic, ear infections, asthma and allergies, torticollis, scoliosis, bedwetting, growing pains, headaches, constipation, gastric reflux, pervasive developmental disorders such as ADD/ADHD and autism, sports injuries, and lowered immune function.  In addition, children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities can benefit greatly from chiropractic care.
  6. Believe it or not, a large part of my practice is wellness care-families who choose to come in without any symptoms for check-ups (like going to the dentist when your teeth don’t hurt) to make sure they have no subluxations.  Without subluxations there is no stress on their nervous system and as a result their immune system is stronger and they probably won’t get sick as often or at all!

At this point you may be thinking this information is very interesting – but it doesn’t apply to our baby or child because they may have had a very uneventful birth and they look and act in a perfectly healthy manner.  I am thankful and I am glad that your child is thriving, but you should still consider having your child checked.  The reasons are many and include:

  1. Spinal problems just like Dad’s brown eyes and Mom’s charm can be passed on from parent to child.
  2. Babies have heavy heads relative to the strength of their neck muscles and this often predisposes them to neck subluxations.
  3. Babies can experience what we call macro-trauma.  They have statistically almost a fifty percent chance of falling on their head in their first year of life.  Many babies that I see have rolled off of a bed, changing table, couch, etc.  They may have cried initially, and perhaps you even took them to the pediatrician to make sure they did not have a concussion.  However, it is a pediatric chiropractor who has the specialized training to ensure that each spinal bone is properly aligned, there is no additional stress to the nervous system and the child is subluxation free.  Please note: Many of these accidents may even occur when the child is in the care of another adult, sibling or baby-sitter and the event is not reported to the parent.
  4. Babies can also experience micro-trauma.  This is the cumulative effect of dozens of small bumps and upsets that occur in learning to crawl, to sit, to stand, etc.  And, when older, how about the stresses when they fall off of a bike, have sports injuries, carry heavy backpacks…
  5. The birthing process itself is always a stress on the child’s structure.  And, even before birth, one must consider the effects of in-utero constraint (the baby’s position in the uterus is cramped and constrained) which may cause conditions such as torticollis of the neck, abnormal positioning of the feet, etc.  Whether it is a natural, vaginal delivery with a midwife or an emergency Cesarean section, birth itself is a stressful process and may result in undetected trauma.

What I have mentioned above is not to stress you any further and not to be alarming. I could go on and on about the importance of having your child checked by a pediatric chiropractor, but I think perhaps I have written enough to give you a sense of my orientation on the subject.  After all my years of service in the profession, I am more likely to be saying “Why wouldn’t you get your child checked?” than “Why would you?”