Is Chiropractic care safe for my baby/child?

In recent years the popularity of paediatric care for infants has been on the rise, and as a result the need for research into the safety of paediatric chiropractic care has arisen. In a review of nine articles specifically pertaining to the safety of chiropractic care of paediatric patients the conclusion was that the application of chiropractic care by a qualified practitioner is safe. It has also been reported that when adverse reactions do occur (+/- one in 200 children), they are minor and rarely last longer than a 24 hour period.

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What conditions do Chiropractors treat in children?

The main role of a chiropractor is to treat any individual from a neuromuscluloskeletal perspective. This means that the chiropractor looks at the nervous system, muscular system and skeletal system. Your chiropractor will take a full history, do a full examination and will then treat your child based on the findings. When it comes to infants, treatment consists very gentle manipulations to their joints, and may include other treatments such as gentle massage and some exercises that you can do at home with your baby. Treatment will help to optimise movement and neural function, which may help your baby grow and develop into the best toddler that they can be.

Let’s face it, being born is hard work for baby too, and can sometimes be a traumatic experience for mom and for baby.

Sometimes, whether baby is born naturally or with the help of a c-section, certain problems can arise. There may be associated strain on the neck, head or even shoulders during the birthing process.

There are many other problems also unrelated to the birth of a baby that are commonly experienced by babies and by extension, the parents.

Common conditions seen in the first few weeks/months after birth:

  • Cranial Deformities

There are three types of cranial asymmetries: plagiocephaly, scaphocephaly and brachycephaly. Cranial asymmetries are fairly common in infants and has cultivated a large amount of interest within the medical field.

The less severe cases of cranial asymmetry is generally caused by pressure placed on baby’s skull when it is still inside of the uterus, or can be caused after birth by other things, for example, pressure on the back of baby’s head due to laying/sleeping on their back.

The little bones in the skull of a baby aren’t fused (they slide over each other in the birth canal). Because the skull is pliable the chiropractor is able to influence the movement of the bones. In addition the chiropractor looks at the muscles in the neck and aims to achieve a balance. The chiropractor will also give you practical advice on what you can do at home to help your baby.

When a cranial deformity cannot be corrected by practical measures, we enlist the help of a specialist orthotist who will do an assessment and may fit your baby with a helmet. The sooner the problem is identified, the better the outcome may be.


  • Tongue tie

Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia is another fairly common presentation seen in babies. It is loosely defined as the little piece of tissue at the base of the tongue that is thicker or tighter than it should be. It is a large topic of debate in the medical fraternity.

Tongue ties can range from mild to severe. Mild cases may not need intervention, or may only need some exercises. Severe cases might need a surgical procedure called a frenotomy.

Complications that may arise from a tongue tie in a baby include difficulties with breastfeeding, problems with speech, and problems during growth of the teeth and face. Your chiropractor will take a good history and look inside your baby’s mouth and assess whether referral to a lactation specialist, paediatrician or ear nose throat surgeon is necessary.


  • Colic

That dreaded C-word. The traditional definition of colic is three or more hours of crying for three or more days per week for three or more weeks. Parents feel completely helpless and debilitated as a result of babies’ crying. It is a very common disorder that affects as many as one in six families.

We prefer to use the term “fussy baby”. There are many degrees of fussiness in babies. The most common age of onset is between three and six weeks, but it can start as soon as birth.

Fussiness can be triggered by many different things. If your baby is fussy beyond what you can cope with, or you feel that something is wrong, reach out for help. Your dedicated chiropractor is there to provide your baby with care, and will guide you to the right professional if the need arises.

A review was done by Dawn Dobson et al on many different studies on manipulative therapies on infants with colic. The review reported that the majority of parents who sent their babies for chiropractic care reported fewer hours of their infant crying per day in comparison to infants who did not receive chiropractic care.


  • Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs in many infants. It is often physiological and typically peaks at about four months of age and has a tendency to resolve with time. Regurgitation is the most obvious symptom of GERD in infants, meaning that baby often ‘vomits’ after a feed. Severeity can range from minor spit up that doesn’t bother baby (happy spitters), to severe, where most of a feed may come out, baby may choke, it triggers fussiness or can even cause failure to thrive.

Other symptoms include difficulties with sleeping and persistent nasal congestion.

Where does the chiropractor fit in? Chiropractic care entails parent education and reassurance. We also advise on correct positioning of your spitty baby, feeding advice, and correction of any musculoskeletal problems that we may find. If symptoms are severe we will refer you to the correct professional so that your baby can get the care that he/she needs.


  • Dyschesia and functional constipation

When people become parents, they realise that baby poop becomes the topic of many, many conversations.

Infant dyschezia is defined as straining and crying for at least ten minutes prior to the successful passage of a soft stool in infants younger than six months of age. It is very often confused with constipation.

Functional constipation in infants/children is diagnosed when there is no other cause identified

Constipated babies typically present with one or more of the following

  • Defecating two or less than two times in seven days
  • Excessive retention of stools
  • Hard stool that causes pain and discomfort
  • Large amount of faecal matter in the rectum

In cases of dyschezia or functional constipation manual therapy can be effective in providing relief to the discomfort that you baby/child is feeling. Your chiropractor will also give you practical advice, and if the case is severe, will refer you to another professional where chiropractic is not indicated.

There are many other reasons why a parent might seek the help of a chiropractor for their baby/child. We as chiropactors approach every case as an individual and we develop treatment protocols specific to every case. We aim to help not only baby, but parents by extension. We seek to reassure parents that they are doing a good job, because we know that raising a baby is difficult and stressful.

If you are a parent to a baby and you are worried that something might be wrong, or you just need reassurance, or even if you just want to have your baby checked out, don’t hesitate to reach out. We will do our best to make sure that your baby/child gets the care that they deserve.


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