John K Maltby II, D.C.
Is It Safe To Adjust a Child?
Yes, it is.
I do have a very personal take on this, because I was raised by a Chiropractor. My father graduated from Palmer in 1977 and would hear other Chiropractors brag about adjusting babies. They would talk about adjusting a two day old, and another would say they adjusted an one day old, and yet another would say they adjusted a five hour old baby. So, late one January morning in 1981 in my grandparent’s house in Garden Grove California, the midwife caught me and handed me directly to my father. He quickly checked me and adjusted me before the umbilical cord was cut, and thus, my Chiropractic journey began, and my dad had his story.
Much later in life I was going through my final medical examination with the Air Force, before my enlistment was up. The MD looked at the size of my medical file (practically an empty folder), and exclaimed “WOW, in six years nothing. What is your secret?” To which I answered, “I was raised by Chiropractors.” He then quickly signed my discharge paperwork, handed it to me and turned around without saying another word. I assumed from his reaction that this was the answer he expected.
My sister and I were both adjusted regularly and have had relatively healthy lives. I have passed this on to my six children who are checked and adjusted regularly as well. The simple fact is Chiropractic is extremely safe for children and helps them grow and develop strong and healthy.
Early in a child’s life can be very traumatic. The birth process is no picnic for them either. The child’s head is pulled on and neck is twisted the moment they emerge from mom. The trauma from the birth process remains an under-publicized and therefore significantly under treated problem (1). They are instantly cold and in distress. They also already know how to instinctively suckle for food from mom, and the perceived learning curve in breastfeeding is always on the mothers’ end, if everything with the child is working properly. What do I mean by this?
Have you ever known a child that prefers to feed on one side verses the other? Or a child that must be held a certain way so they can latch properly? This is a very common issue that we Chiropractors see all the time. The child is not comfortable holding their head in a certain position or they cannot seem to turn their head to one side completely. This is usually due to a subluxation of the upper cervical spine, the top two bones in the neck. They can easily be “stuck” from the traumatic birth they just experienced.
The Chiropractic adjustment in the early stages of neurologic imprinting (brain development) appear to safely and effectively address the craniocervical dysfunction and help restore natural, efficient suckling patterns for infants who are unable to successfully latch. (2) This is a technical way of saying that the adjustment helps a child’s brain develop because it allow them to suckle and latch better.
Discomfort in breastfeeding is not the only sign of birth trauma, there are many other things that been shown to be signs of neurological issues due to birth trauma: (3-9)
- Breathing weakness
- Frequent spitting up
- Sleeping problems
- Ear infections
- Balance issues
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral problems
This only a short list is why us Chiropractors encourage parents to get their child’s spine checked as soon as possible after birth.
Now, the Chiropractic Adjustment for a child will differ from the adjustment given to an adult. The pressure is not the same, often it is very light pressure from the finger tips. Most children are soothed by it and the response from a child is usually much quicker than that from an adult. My children usually fight over who is next to get adjusted and quickly jump on the adjusting table in excitement. Most kids that come in my office are like this and enjoy the experience. I would guess that this is a common thing in Chiropractors offices across the globe.
Another questions a parent might ask is, “Why would I take my child to a Chiropractor if they have no symptoms?” To which I would ask, “Would you wait for your child to have a full painful cavity that needs a root canal before taking them to the dentist?” Of course not. Checking the spine periodically for subluxations of the spine is no different than going to the dentist to make sure that there are no cavities forming that could cause massive amounts of pain and discomfort.
Many of the health issues that are found in adults began much earlier in life than when they seem to appear. Health cannot be measured with how we feel but rather how well our body is coping with the stressors we place on it. Children are often placing many physical stressors on themselves as they are growing and learning new movements. We watch them fall and trip all day long as they are learning to walk and play. They do not complain about aches and pains from these falls too much and we clean their scraps, kiss them and send them out again.
Taking them to the Chiropractor to make sure these trips and falls do not turn into anything bigger should be apart of their normal routine as they grow and develop into fully functioning adults.
1. Gutman G. Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Babies and Infants. Manuelle Medizin. 1987;25:5-10
2. Vallone SA. The Role of Subluxation and Chiropractic Care in Hypolactation. JCCP. 2007;8(1&2)
3. Beiderman H. Kinematic Imbalances Due to Suboccipital Strain in Newborns. Journal of Manual Medicine 1992;6:151-156
4. Fallon J. The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the care and treatment of 332 Children with otitis media. JCCP. 1997;2(1)
5. Fallon J. Developmental -Behavioral Pediatrics: The Chiropractors Role. JCCP 2008;9(1)
6. Miller J DC. et al. Can Chiropractic Care Improve Infants’ Sleep? JCCP. 2008;9(1)
7. Van Breda WM. et al. A Comparative Study of the Health Status of Children Raised under the Health models of Chiropractic and Allopathic medicine. Journal of Chiropractic Research. 1989:101-103
8. Giesen JM. et al. An Evaluation of Chiropractic Manipulation as a Treatment of Hyperactivity in Children. JMPT. 1989;12:353-363
9. Walton EV. Chiropractic Effectiveness with Emotional, Learning and Behavioral Impairments. Internal Review of Chiropractic. 1975;29:2-5,21-22.