Chiropractors examine infants to check for any misalignments in the spine that might affect the nervous system. A healthy spine is important for proper growth and development.
What are some of the reasons that infants need chiropractic care?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That is a really great question and it is one that I get asked a lot because most parents are coming into chiropractors because they have some back pain or neck pain. The question they always have is why would you need to check my child? He does not have any back pain or neck pain and really it all comes down to a very simple answer of prevention. What I often will counter a question like that is: Do you need to have heart disease to benefit from exercise? In most cases, the answer is always going to be no. Do you need to have cavities to benefit from brushing your teeth and going to a dentist? No, because if you take care of your teeth and you brush and floss and you see a dentist periodically, your teeth are going to last you a lifetime.
It is no different with the spine. Your spine has a very important function. It protects your central nervous system and it allows our body to be mobile, it allows us to move. It does not matter how old you are, you are never too old, you are never too young to start taking care of your spine. People think oh, well, how does their spine get injured? If anyone has ever witnessed a live birth or seen a video or even a video of a C-section, these things can be very traumatic on the baby.
If mom is given an epidural and she does not have the ability to push the baby out, very often the doctor will have to pull. The first thing that comes out typically is the neck and if the doctor grabs the baby’s head and starts to pull on the neck, however gentle he pulls, he still needs to apply a certain amount of force to get that baby out and that can be traumatic to the baby’s neck.
Some infants need to be checked because there could be a subluxation or a misalignment caused just from the delivery process itself. It is extremely important that anyone who has a spine and a nerve system care for that system, because the more you care for any system, the longer it is going to last and the better it is going to function. That is true with your teeth, it is true with your exercise and anything that has to do with health, the better you take care of it, the longer that item is going to last.
What happens during a C-section delivery that might affect the baby’s spine?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That is a really great question as well, because most people think oh, a C-section is safe. The baby does not get squeezed coming through the birth canal, but that is really a mistake because when you do a C-section, the opening that they cut is nowhere near as elastic as the birth canal, so when they go in and they reach in, usually the first thing that they will get is the arm that comes out first. Then you will see the shoulder and then you will see the neck get stretched and eventually it pops out.
I have watched a lot of videos and you can see the actual traumatic portion as the baby is pulled through that incision, because again, there is no elasticity to it. It does not stretch like the birth canal will, so that is something that can really affect the baby’s neck. I have seen traumatic birth injuries where the baby comes into the office with the mom and the head is flopped over to one side. You try and put it to the other side, it just flops right back. They call that infant torticollas and a lot of times it is just the trauma from the birth injury. That can happen in a vaginal birth as well as a C-section, but it does seem to be a little bit more frequent with C-sections.
Even though people think that a C-section is a safer way to have a baby, it is not really true and additionally, there are more risks to the mother because there is an open procedure and an incision; there is a higher risk of infection. Also, the baby does not bond as well to the mom because it doesn’t go through the birth canal and have a big squeeze. That big squeeze actually compresses the fontanels or the bones of the head together, which starts pumping the cerebral spinal fluid. That does not happen when you have a C-section birth, so there are a lot of disadvantages to having the C-section birth.
I’m not saying that C-sections are not important and done for a reason, but there is no way that the C-section rate should be up near 50%. That just seems too high to me and I think a lot of moms are opting to have them out of convenience and doctors are working to have a mom have these C-sections because they are just quicker, easier all over. It is easier to schedule and it doesn’t take as long to wait around for the mom to actually deliver the child naturally.
I think there is definitely an issue that needs to be looked at in society today, because way too many births are going to C-section and it is just not as healthy for the baby and there is much more risk to the mom as well. There are many different things that can happen during a C-section, but again, the lack of elasticity of that incision is one of the biggest things that compresses the baby and causes the baby’s spine to be misaligned during that birthing process.
How might a baby’s growth and development be impacted by a misaligned spine?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That is a fair question to ask and usually what I will tell people is there is this old adage which applies to the bonsai tree: As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. These infants have what are called open growth plates and the growth plates are where the bone fills in. A long bone has a growth plate on both sides and it just starts to grow in those plates, but if there is uneven pressure on those growth plates, the bones are going to grow uneven and that can lead to scoliosis, the spinal curvatures that people see developing in the spine.
Those misalignments later in life can cause arthritic change and degeneration and any time you have a misalignment in the spine it can put pressure and irritate the delicate spinal nerves and that can cause pain, discomfort and dysfunction in the body because you irritate the nerves that are the communication center of the body. Then the communication from the brain to the rest of the body is not going to go as well and then the body is not going to be as healthy as it can be and it is not going to have optimal function. Growth and development can be affected just very simple: As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. If the spine is not aligned properly, it is going to grow crooked and then it will heal wrong, grow wrong, and eventually lead to pressure on those delicate spinal nerves and problems that can show up much later in life.
How soon after birth can a baby receive a chiropractic checkup and their first adjustment?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: The closest I have ever come was probably about 5 or 6 hours after the baby was born, but I know many, many chiropractors who are actually in the delivery room and as soon as the baby comes out, the first thing they do is check the baby’s neck to make sure that the cervical spine was not damaged in the delivery process. It is safe to do it anytime and one thing that I want to say to our listeners is if you have ever been to a chiropractor and you have been adjusted and if you think that the way you get adjusted is the same as an infant, it is not even close. The amount of energy used to adjust an infant’s neck is I can use my pinky and most of the time they barely even know that they are being adjusted because you have to remember, those bones are not ossified. They are very cartilaginous.
Those infants do not have 20, 30 years of stress, poor posture, accidents and falls that have built up in their spine, so they are very easy to correct, and it is a very gentle and simple process. Most of the time the children do not even know that they are getting adjusted, these infants. They just lie there in mom’s arms or lying on mom’s chest and they usually pay me absolutely no mind. It can be done from the moment they are born and there are no negative effects or harm that are going to come to an infant, as long as the technique is applied correctly.
What other chiropractic services do you provide for infants?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That is an odd question and in my office, there really is no other chiropractic service other than the chiropractic adjustment. We just examine the child. We will check the atlas, we will look at the fossa temperatures, which are an indicator to let me know if there is any pressure built up in the nerve system and then we just adjust them. There is really no other chiropractic services other than the chiropractic adjustment for infants.
In my office, we don’t really provide too much else other than chiropractic adjustments. I want to be the best at that one thing and I consider myself an expert in detecting and removing subluxations and it does not matter who the person is. If they are 99 or 9-minutes-old, it is the same process: checking, looking for misalignment and then correcting it. Obviously, the way you correct a 99-year-old versus a 50-year-old compared to a 9-minute-old, is going to be different. You have to apply the correct techniques on the correct person and all techniques work equally well.
It does not matter which specific technique or what other services you add, as long as you do the adjustment, get the pressure off the nerve, the body’s going to be healthier, the baby’s going to be healthier and remember that your nerve system controls every stage of growth and development. The nerve system is telling the body what to do, so if those messages can make it from the brain to the cell tissue or organ that it is destined for without any interference and it gets there clean, crisp, clear communication, everything is going to be executed right.
If you give someone directions and they are muddled and you can not really hear what they are saying, then you are not going to execute the right plan and then things are not going to go well, but as long as the directions are clear from the brain, the brain will almost never make mistakes in growth and development. That clear path is going to aid that infant in having the best chance of having proper growth and development without interfering and it is just that simple.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call 917-534-6484 to schedule an appointment