The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chiropractic care as “a healthcare profession concerned with diagnosing, treating, and preventing disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health (1).”
Chiropractic care works on the premise that the human body is a neuromusculoskeletal system, and any disorder in one part of the system would cause a disturbance in the other parts. It focuses on the body’s ability to heal itself and involves manual techniques to adjust or manipulate joint misalignments and restore overall health.
If you are looking for more information about chiropractic treatment for babies, read this post as we tell you what chiropractic treatment is and its possible benefits.
How Safe Is Chiropractic Treatment For Babies?
It is essential to evaluate the safety of chiropractic treatment before trying it on babies. Evidence suggests that chiropractic treatment in a skilled chiropractor’s hands has low risk (2).
A new study has also observed that most adverse events are mild, and the risk of moderate and severe adverse events is unknown in children treated with spinal manipulative therapy (3).
However, it is crucial to observe the baby during the treatment sessions and indicate appropriate medical attention when the baby fails to thrive or misses any developmental milestones. It is also equally important to do thorough background research of the chiropractor.
Note that chiropractic care should be considered an adjunctive treatment to a doctor’s treatment. As further research is required to ascertain the benefits of chiropractic treatment, you should always consult your child’s doctor before considering it.
When Do You Need A Chiropractor For Babies?
During the session, the chiropractor would make gentle adjustments to the muscles and the spine using their hands.
Let us have a look at how chiropractic treatment can help babies with certain conditions.
Possible Benefits Of Chiropractic Treatment For Babies
Chiropractic treatment is known to have quite a few possible benefits for babies. Let us have a look at each one in detail.
1. Ear infections
One of the most common problems found in babies is ear infections resulting from fluid buildup in the eustachian tubes. The excess fluid might lead to pressure in the ear and cause infection and pain. In the chiropractic method, the fluid is drained from the eustachian tube by dilating the muscles around it, thus relieving pain and unblocking the tubes.
A retrospective study conducted on forty-six babies under the age of five suggests that medical intervention along with chiropractic care may decrease the symptoms of ear infection in young children (4). So, talk to your baby’s doctor and consider trying chiropractic treatment along with the medical treatment.
Characterized by abdominal pain and excessive crying, colic is one of the main reasons for distress in babies. Colic is caused due to allergies or an immature gastrointestinal system. It can cause severe discomfort in babies.
Colic in babies might subside with time. However, studies suggest that chiropractic manual therapy combined with medical treatment is found to reduce the crying times by 50% compared to infants who were provided with only medical treatment. Chiropractic treatment is also found to reduce the overall total costs by more than 400% compared to medical treatment (5).
3. Immune system
Chiropractic treatments are also known to boost the immune system. Studies have found that chiropractic treatments may influence T and B lymphocytes, NK (Natural Killer) cell numbers, antibody levels, phagocytic activity, and plasma bet-endorphin levels, thus helping the body fight off disease-causing microorganisms better (6).
4. Physical development
During early infancy, the spine shape and structures undergo many changes. During the first year, the spine increases in length, and the neck curvature forms. The lower back curvature also forms to help the baby sit up independently (7).
However, if the spine is misaligned, such physical developments could be disturbed. Chiropractic methods aim to restore motion to the joints and balance the tissues to help babies attain optimal growth and development (8).
5. Reduction of fussiness
Chiropractic therapies may also help with crying and fussiness in babies. The irritability could be due to colic, gas, or internal tension in the body. Chiropractic treatments may prove beneficial in keeping the baby calm and relaxed.
A study suggests that babies with complaints of fussiness and irritability due to musculoskeletal origin might benefit from chiropractic care (9).
Constipation can be a common problem in babies, and chiropractic treatment might be helpful as an adjunctive treatment to treat constipation and other gastrointestinal issues, such as gastroesophageal reflux, in babies. A literature review evaluating the studies describing the management of disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract using chiropractic treatment found that these studies suggest mild and moderate improvements with no adverse side effects (10).
Alternative treatment methods have been gaining popularity due to their low side effects. However, it is best to keep yourself informed about the procedure and its safety profile before trying it for your baby. Once you are assured and comfortable with the procedure after consulting your child’s doctor, you may go ahead with this treatment option for your baby.
2. Sharon A Vallone et al.; Chiropractic approach to the management of children; Chiropractic & Osteopathy (2010).
3. Melissa Corso et al.; The safety of spinal manipulative therapy in children under 10 years: a rapid review; Chiropractic & Manual Therapies (2020).
4. R M Froehle; Ear infection: a retrospective study examining improvement from chiropractic care and analyzing for influencing factors; Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (1996).
5. Infantile Colic and Chiropractic; The Chiropractic Resource Organization
6. Strengthening Your Child’s Immune System; PlanetChiropractic
7. Fiona R. Saunders et al.; Motor development in infancy and spine shape in early old age: Findings from a British birth cohort study; Journal of Orthopaedic Research (2020).
8. Gina Shaw; Safety and Effectiveness of Pediatric Chiropractic; American Chiropractic Association (2016).
9. Joel Alcantara and Renata Anderson; Chiropractic care of a pediatric patient with symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, fuss-cry-irritability with sleep disorder syndrome and irritable infant syndrome of musculoskeletal origin; The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association (2008).
10. Katherine Angus, Sepideh Asgharifar, and Brian Gleberzon; What effect does chiropractic treatment have on gastrointestinal (GI) disorders: a narrative review of the literature; The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association (2015).