There are many ways that chiropractors can help ensure a baby’s proper growth and development and it all starts with an initial, gentle examination of the spine.
Before we dive right into the list of the top 10 reasons parents should bring their baby to a chiropractor, can you talk about how your practice specializes in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic care?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Absolutely, Liz. The thing is that as my practice developed, there became more of an awareness of this niche, of these expecting moms and kids that weren’t getting care. And the thing that bothers me the most is a lot of moms and doctors with these young kids, infants, and children, they’re resulting to medications as their first line of defense to try and solve problems. Kids are absolutely amazing, they have a nerve system, they have an innate intelligence that runs and regulates their body and heals their body, and they have an ability, naturally pre-programmed in there with this immune system, to heal, run, and regulate the body. And being able to coax that out and keep the body free from interference is so important.
So, we focused on pediatric maternity and family care as we saw this need developing, and saw more and more kids needlessly getting surgical procedures and put on medications, off-label, for things like acid reflux and all these things, when these little babies are so perfect when they’re born. So, I did a lot of extra study, a lot of it was through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, and I’ve taken a lot of seminars live, not just online, to maintain that level of expertise.
So, with that focus, now we attract more moms, infants, and children. A lot of times, a mom will come in when they’re pregnant, and then a couple weeks later, or sometimes even less than that, they come in with the newborn to have the newborn checked. So, the reputation that we have in the community is that we really specialize in the pediatric, maternity, and family care, and that’s the majority of the cases that are coming through the door now, which is awesome. And we still do our general spine care, but really, I have such a love for working with these infants and children and helping them stay healthy without using drugs and surgery.
Could you please list the 10 reasons that a mom should bring her baby to a chiropractor?
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Okay, we’re going to get started on that. The most important thing that I like to explain to moms when they first come in and we’re talking about their infant or children, number one, is that I always want to dispel the myth that children and infants especially, they do not get adjusted the same way an adult does. As a matter of fact, adjusting children and infants is safer than adjusting adults, because they haven’t been on the planet very long, they haven’t been exposed to stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, and their spines are super flexible and mostly cartilaginous. They’re not bony yet. They don’t ossify completely until we hit 22 years of age, so the bones are soft and they’re designed to be compressed. So, it’s actually safer to adjust infants and children than it is to adjust adults. But it’s also very safe to adjust adults, and we’ve talked about that in the past, because my malpractice insurance is only $2,300 a year. It costs more to insure my car than it costs to insure my practice. So that just gives you a good line about the safety.
But during the child’s first nine months, they undergo tremendous growth inside the womb, and every stage of growth and development as they prepare to enter the world, the brain and the nerve system are always the first to develop from conception, right? And then the spine and the skull, which is the housing that protects that master controlling nerve system as it develops, it will start to form. And then we’ll see, if you look at any early embryonic development, the first thing that forms is that spine and nerve system, and it gives them an opportunity for that inborn intelligence to develop their physical, emotional, and spiritual nature. So, when a child is born, their curiosity is what keeps them out there, right? They’re always picking things up, and a child picks something up, where do they put it? Right into their mouth.
RC: Right in the mouth, yeah.
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Exactly. And that actually exposes them to these germs and pathogens, which actually builds up their immune system naturally, and that’s why they do things like that. And so, understanding that the immune system, which is controlled by the nerve system, has to develop naturally and if there’s any interference or pressure on the nerve system, it can slow down the way the immune system develops. The best way to stimulate a child’s immune system is through breastfeeding, because the immunoglobulins are passed through the IgG, through the breast milk. And so, many moms, back in the day when they went right to formula, a lot of these kids missed out on building their immune system. So that’s important.
And what happens later is if the child has a long, difficult labor, or there’s a forceps delivery, or the doctor pulls on the baby’s neck to get the baby to turn vertical so they can come out, all those things can put a little stress or trauma into the neck, and typically that’s the first thing to misalign. And when the vertebrae in the neck get misaligned or subluxated, it irritates the nerve system. When the nerve system is irritated, particularly if you get out of balance with sympathetic and parasympathetic, and understanding that the sympathetic is about stress and fight or flight, a kid who’s imbalanced and in sympathetic overdrive is going to be colicky, coughing and sneezing, their immune system won’t be as strong, and that baby’s going to be agitated, crying, and screaming, and the moms don’t know what to do.
So, a lot of times, they just come in with a colicky baby, and we can balance out the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The kids calm down, their digestion’s better, they slow down or stop the projectile vomiting. All that stuff is so important. So really, balancing the nerve system is what does the trick in these kids, where the parents are just at their wits’ end, right? And I think you have kids, right?
RC: Yes, I actually have twins. And luckily for me, we did seek chiropractic care. And I say luckily because I was highly encouraged to do so, and I’m so glad that we did. And they are now 17-year-old healthy boys. And I have to say, along the way, there’s been plenty of bumps and bruises, but they have basically grown up to be healthy boys and we’re really blessed. So yes, I’ve been through every stage, every single stage of growth, development, especially the teenage years. But yes, thank you for bringing that up.
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Many parents always report, when they begin chiropractic care for their infants, toddler, and children, that they see an improvement in the quality of life in their child, particularly like better immune system function, resulting in fewer colds, fewer ear infections, improved appetite, sleeping through the night, and an overall happier child. Because again, when you balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve system, the kids aren’t really under as much stress.
So, if we were going to go down the top 10 list, and I probably don’t even have 10 reasons, but I probably talked about 10 already, but when I start reading the list, it’s really to promote healthy growth and development. Because when your baby’s born, it’s like a brand new computer and all the hardware is there, but the software is going to get programmed over time. That software, we call it an innate intelligence, it knows how to run, regulate the body. And the messages that flow from the brain to the body through the nerve system, they can be interfered with. And that can be from stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, kids get dropped, when they learn to walk, they fall millions of times every day.
And sometimes people don’t even realize the OB-GYNs are like, “Oh, yep, the baby’s head down at week 30, everything looks great.” But can you understand if a baby is head down with the neck flexed in the proper position for three months, what that could potentially do to the neck? So, we can get those misalignments or subluxations, and then the chiropractor realigns those to allow the free flow of information from the brain to the body. When those pathways are open, neural development occurs without interference, proprioception, balance, coordination, all the information going to the cerebellum is important. And a lot of the most recent research shows when there’s an interference of information, particularly proprioception, how the body balances and is aware of its place in space, going to the cerebellum, that contributes to scoliosis development, and that’s a pretty hot topic that they’re talking about.
My number three is to alleviate colic, acid reflux. Incoordination in the infant’s body can cause the infant to have trouble latching and even suck too much air while they’re breastfeeding. That can result in colicky behavior, spit ups, and reflux as well. It’s not a deficiency of anything, and certainly not a deficiency of Prevacid, which they like to put these kids on off-label.
It also improves sleep patterns. The vagus nerve, which is one of the nerves that really is primarily responsible for balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic, which controls digestion, allows the body to rest, and really connects up to the gut, every part of it, the stomach, the intestines, large intestine, small intestine, the vagus nerve regulates that. And what’s interesting is that vagus nerve starts all the way up at the very top, and goes down and hits like 90% of our viscera and our organs. So, it is so important that communication goes free without interference as well.
It can help prevent and alleviate ear infections that result from the infant’s subluxation of the atlas, that top cervical vertebrae, because when that’s out of alignment, that can change the flow of cerebral spinal fluid and slow the drainage, and that can create a back pressure to the ears, and that stagnated fluid allows for a greater chance of infection. By making those adjustments, we open up and see an improvement in cerebral spinal fluid flow. That’s been demonstrated on MRI in adults; they didn’t do a whole bunch of MRIs on infants.
We talked a little bit about number six, to enhance and support immune system function. The link between the nerve system and the immune system is undeniable. When the nerve system is disconnected from the immune system, it just doesn’t function properly. That’s something we see in a lot of people who are paralyzed in a wheelchair. They never live long, healthy lives, because there’s not enough neurology to control the immune system. Particularly someone like Christopher Reeve after that accident, they put them on antibiotics for the rest of their lives because they know that the immune system isn’t up to snuff.
One of the big reasons that moms bring their kids in is to address torticollis, infant torticollis, where the head is flopped over to one side, the baby’s not latching properly, will only feed on one breast. And because they’re not moving their head around too much, they get plagiocephaly, which is those flat spots. And using upper cervical and cranial sacral techniques, we can actually adjust the bones of the cervical spine and of the cranium, and improve the range of motion, and improve the development in the shape of the skull. So, better alignment means better function, just basically by the elimination of subluxations.
Number eight on my list is the improved latching and smoother range of cervical motion. And number nine is to promote overall health and wellness. And one of the things that’s important is we look at how kids grow up and develop now. I don’t know if you remember, when I was a kid, I remember we didn’t learn the alphabet until we were in first grade. And the only reason I remember that is they used to walk down with these inflatable letters, and each day they would bring in another letter and they would talk about the letter. But now a kid coming out of kindergarten knows how to read, and it’s crazy. So, we put this huge educational load on this brain that is neuroplastic, and is learning and developing, but sometimes when they throw too much, some of these kids bypass certain stages of development, and it shows up as deficiencies in the nerve system and function later.
And number 10, we kind of talked a little bit about, it supports nerve system function, it supports neuroplasticity, the development of the nerve system. A clear nerve system will support every stage of growth and development like we talked about. It helps to prevent and manage scoliosis by keeping everything aligned, because as a twig is bent, so grows the tree. And it really sets the stage for a healthier, drug-free life for kids. Because kids learn what you teach them, and if you teach them at an early age that chiropractic is good for them, and they don’t need drugs and surgery, then they grow up that way, because they learn exactly what you teach them.
So, especially with kids growing up with iPhones and iPads, and we’re seeing all this forward head posture, or what they call tech neck, and for every inch that kid’s head moves forward, it adds a lot of weight, it adds 10 pounds of weight for every inch it moves forward. And I can’t tell you, I look at my nieces and nephews growing up, and I just look at their necks, and their head is so far forward. People like me and you, we didn’t really have cell phones until we were probably, what, in our twenties or thirties?
RC: Oh Yes.
Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: These kids are growing up with them. Those stresses are on the spine real, real early. So, those are my top 10 reasons. I probably threw a few more in there and might’ve repeated a few, but I think everyone got their bang for their buck. And if anyone has more questions, reach out to the office, check out our website. There’s a ton of information out there. And I hope people like the new format, and they don’t feel like I’m just throwing tons of information at them, but I hope they get a benefit out of it.
To speak with Dr. Gregg Rubinstein, visit www.ChiropractorMidtown.com or call (212) 977-7094 to schedule an appointment.