When chiropractors check the spine of a newborn, we are feeling for restriction in motion. We call it subluxation; a joint that is not moving properly and has a wider effect on health and function of the nervous system. Research has shown that 91% of healthy newborns had at least one area of restriction in their neck after birth!1 Am I surprised by this? Not at all. At Sprout Family Chiropractic, we see infants everyday to help address this exact problem.
In this research study performed by Doctors of Osteopathy, they found that the majority of healthy newborns have restrictions in the motion of the spine after birth.1 In the vertebra of the neck, 91% had at least one area of restriction. In the lumbar spine and sacrum, this number reached 94% and 80% respectively.1 While in the chiropractic world we call these areas subluxations, in other professions the term somatic dysfunction is used.
This study included one hundred newborns, between 6 and 72 hours old. Doctors of Osteopathy assed for somatic dysfunction. This means that all the joints of the spine, and even the sutures of the cranial bones, were assessed for proper range of motion. When a joint was identified that was not moving properly, it is deemed as somatic dysfunction.
What happens when somatic dysfunction, or subluxation, is not addressed? Does this in fact affect the way infants grow and develop? Does subluxation put stress on the entire system, and how does a newborn's body respond to this stress?
First, subluxation in a child alters the tone of their neuromotor system, leading to either excessive tension or decreased activity and stability. Subluxation then creates imbalance and incoordination within the nervous system, leading to dysfunction with various things such as meeting motor milestones, digestive and immune function, and more. Pediatric chiropractors are specifically trained to locate and correct subluxation. Adjustments are gentle, safe, and highly effective. Adjustments are designed to release and unwind this stuck tension.
In my experience as a pediatric chiropractor, removing stress on a newborn’s body has proven to play a critical role in allowing their little bodies to develop freely. After chiropractic care, I have seen babies move better, sleep better, eat better, poop better, and cry less. It is one of my greatest goals in life to have every infant checked for subluxation. This does not mean that every newborn will be adjusted, but the study provided shows that at least 91% of newborns could benefit from this care.
1. Waddington, Erica L., Snider, Karen T., Lockwood, Michael D. and Pazdernik, Vanessa K.. "Incidence of Somatic Dysfunction in Healthy Newborns" Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, vol. 115, no. 11, 2015, pp. 654-665.