Science is now beginning to investigate a health issue that chiropractors have been concerned about for many years - birth trauma. For decades, chiropractors have observed potential dangers for newborns as a result of some of the modern day approaches to childbirth. Birth is a natural process and is an amazing life-changing family event. However, even with common delivery procedures that appear to go as planned, many potential problems can arise. 

In some cases, the delivery process results in a direct birth trauma. These traumas may include caput succedaneum, a condition marked by scalp swelling, cephalohematoma, an accumulation of blood below the baby’s periosteum, the protective membrane that covers an infant’s skull, bruising and broken bones, subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is bleeding that occurs when small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes break, Bell’s palsy, brachial plexus injury, oxygen deprivation, and fractures - most commonly the collar bone. 

The most prevalent injury chiropractors have seen when it comes to the birth process is the creation of misalignments, or a structural shift, in the baby’s spine. Numerous research articles have displayed scientific documentation of damage that occurs to the nervous system in the neck of newborns during the common birth process. This damage ranges from mild misalignments in the upper neck to more serious issues involving spinal cord damage and central nervous system problems. How can these injuries occur? According to Abraham Towbin, MD, from Harvard Medical School and the Department of Pathology, presented research at the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the American Academy For Cerebral Palsy, in his research he found that "the birth process, even under optimal conditions, is potentially a traumatic, crippling event for the fetus.” “Spinal cord and brain stem injuries occur often during the process of birth but frequently escape diagnosis." Dr. Towbin continues, "death may occur during delivery or, with respiratory function depressed, a short period after birth. Infants who survive the initial effects, may be left with severe nervous system defects."” He concludes by addressing the clinical significance of spinal cord and brain stem injury at birth, noting that such damage is often latent and undiagnosed. 

In one particular study, 1,250 babies were examined five days after birth; 211 of them suffered from vomiting, hyperactivity and sleeplessness. Structural shifts, or misalignments, were found in 95% of these babies. Although the researchers in this study were medical doctors, they recognized the power of chiropractic care and these babies were given the spinal care they needed. The authors reported that the spinal adjustment “frequently resulted in immediate quieting, cessation of crying, muscular relaxation and sleepiness.” The authors noted that an unhealthy spine causes “many clinical features from central motor impairment to lower immune function. This case focuses on an 18-month-old boy suffering from tonsillitis, frequent enteritis, therapy-resistant conjunctivitis, frequent colds, earache and increasing sleeping problems. He received a chiropractic spinal adjustment. The child demanded to be put to bed and slept peacefully until morning. His health returned to normal. 

While the birth process is becoming more and more of an intervening procedure, rather than a natural process, we are seeing an increase in birth trauma. There is a time and place for medical intervention, however sometimes there can be consequences. For this reason, the need for infant chiropractic care is now more important than ever. For over 100 years, chiropractors have been utilizing specific and gentle adjusting procedures to analyze, detect and correct any structural shifts in the spine, and monitor the stability once care is given. There are literally thousands of cases of children responding to chiropractic care with conditions such as ear infections, immune system dysfunction, seizures, colic, torticollis, reflux, asthma, scoliosis, and many others. 

According to the late chiropractic pediatric specialist Larry Webster, D.C., there are six times in a baby’s first year of life when spinal examinations are especially important:

● After the birth process.
● When the baby starts to hold his/her head up.
● When the baby sits up.
● When the baby starts to crawl.
● When the baby starts to stand.
● When the baby starts to walk.

A structural evaluation of the spine is a very gentle procedure. After working with a large number of pediatric patients, our staff is committed to creating a comfortable environment and experience for both parents and baby. Our goal is to make sure the baby’s spine is free from any structural displacements that can limit the proper function and development of nervous system. When it comes to spinal problems, early detection is key when it comes to preventing more complicated issues down the road.