To Your Health
January, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 01)
Chiropractic for Kids: Getting the Word Out
By Dr. Elise Hewitt
Marlena was at her wit's end. Her first child had been a breeze, but her second was a different story. At 6 weeks old, Cameron hadn't slept longer than an hour at a time, was fussy when awake, had difficulty nursing and seemed to spit up more than he ate, a feat that continually perplexed his mother. Marlena had concerns about giving reflux medications to a baby so young. The pediatrician told Marlena to hang in there, that Cameron would eventually outgrow his symptoms. Marlena wasn't sure she could last that long.
Then a friend suggested she take her baby to a chiropractor. The friend said a chiropractor had helped ease her baby's colic and had helped her baby nurse more comfortably. Marlena was skeptical, but willing to try anything. She went to a chiropractor who specializes in treating children.
The chiropractor listened to Marlena's story of her baby and the birth, and thoroughly examined her child. The chiropractor paid special attention to the joints of Cameron's spine and cranium. After a few very gentle maneuvers to loosen joints in the baby that had gotten locked during the birth process, Marlena was amazed at the change in her son. Cameron immediately latched on to the breast more deeply and more comfortably.
After three sessions with the chiropractor, Cameron was a completely different child - he slept for longer stretches, nursed for shorter stretches, rarely spit up and, most importantly, was happy and content the rest of the time. Marlena was thrilled.
How does chiropractic care work?
How did the chiropractor help Cameron sleep better, nurse better and spit up less? The answer is actually simple when you understand a little about the body. When a joint in the spine or cranium doesn't move properly (a condition called a subluxation), it has the potential to irritate the nervous system. And it's the nervous system that runs the baby's body, carrying instructions from the brain to distant body parts. If that communication system becomes disrupted, the affected body part may not function properly. Chiropractic care removes the source of irritation, allowing the body to heal and operate properly.
In Cameron's case, a dysfunctional joint was irritating the nerve that travels from the brain to the tongue. As a result, Cameron's tongue did not know how to properly function during the suck-swallow cycle, causing a shallow latch that was painful for Marlena. Once the locked joint was released with a procedure called an adjustment, the nerve irritation disappeared, restoring proper communication between the brain and tongue, allowing the tongue to latch on properly (and thankfully for Marlena, painlessly as well).
The same applies to Cameron's excessive spitting up - the adjustment relieved irritation to the nerves that control the digestive tract. And because Cameron was no longer hungry and no longer had a tummy ache, not only was he able to sleep more deeply, but he was also happier and more comfortable than he'd ever been before.