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 Adjusting Infants and Children

Why is it important to check infants and children for subluxations?

Besides being the most wonderful blessings, infants and children are just little people, with little spines made up of little independently movable vertebrae surrounding and protecting their little spinal cords and spinal nerve roots. Since they were fetuses, their brains have been...

  • controlling growth and development

  • repairing damage when necessary

  • controlling all of the functions of every part, system, organ, tissue and cell in their bodies.

That control is passed back and forth between the brain and body by their nervous systems.

Remember, subluxation occurs when individual vertebrae are moved out of place or when the joints between them become less than perfectly movable. Either of these situations puts pressure on the nerves and/or the spinal cord, causing interference to the control the brain is trying to effect.

What causes subluxations in children?

The three common causes of subluxation are:

  • emotional

  • chemical

  • physical

Unlike in adults, the most common cause in infants and children is physical. As long as infants and children are reasonably well-rested, cared for and nurtured, they don't really have any emotional stresses that would cause subluxation. Similarly, with proper nutrition, liquid intake and appropriate movement or exercise, their metabolisms (energy and chemical control systems) should not encounter stress that would cause subluxation. However, as their developing bodies are so much more delicate than those of adults, physical causes of subluxation are, unfortunately, much more frequent.

Subluxation during the birth process

In addition, the birth process itself is very traumatic. Research done right here in Boston by Dr. Abraham Towbin in 1969 proved that in even a normal hospital birth it was not uncommon for the obstetrician to turn the baby's head 120 degrees (that's about halfway between the shoulder and looking directly backward), and pull with 90 lbs of force to get the shoulders presented. Not only is this amount of rotation about 50% more than what the adult neck is designed to allow, children don't even have the bony structure to protect themselves from twisting injury until at least age 7. This kind of over-rotation and excessive pulling is way more than enough to cause significant subluxation.

In fact, Dr. Towbin found injury not only to these babies' ligaments and joints, but to their spinal cord and brain stems in some cases which led to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Think about it for a second. Everybody knows that you need to be very gentle in handling infants and support their necks because they can't even support the weight of their own head when you move them!

Subluxation from injury

When children get a little older, there are different types of physical stresses that cause subluxation, such as falls when learning to stand and walk. It's uncanny how babies always seem to hit their heads in falls if and when they don't land on them directly. Then there's Uncle Oscar, tossing the cute little tot into the air and (hopefully) catching him/her each time, and only causing repeated whiplash trauma to the neck. There are bouncy swings and walkers that are almost always used too early. Tussles with siblings / cousins / friends, childhood sports, bicycles, skates, skateboards and scooters, not to mention falling off the chair in school … physical causes of subluxation happen all too often!


Ariana (26 mo.)

getting checked


Ariana  getting adjusted


What are some of the possible symptoms of subluxation in infants and children?

In infants, the most common short-term symptoms are:

  • depressed breathing function

  • spasms of spinal muscles (especially in the neck)

  • decreased control of the temperature regulating mechanism and slowed maturity of the immune system in general. This can lead to infantile colic (a disorder or dis-ease of the digestive system which is assumed to be painful, based on the distressed reaction the baby has to this abnormal situation).

Another common result is ear middle infections, often caused by spasm in the neck's spinal muscles and those of the soft palate, inhibiting drainage of the middle ear by the Eustachian tube and the deep lymphatic system (a special system designed to filter chemicals and swelling out of the tissues of the body). See diagram on right.

Untreated, over a period of several years these subluxations may lead to a variety of childhood maladies:

  • Repeated colds, because the immune system isn't working as well as it could or should be. Repeated ear infections, especially if the first infection is treated with antibiotics.

  • Allergies and asthma when the immune system is unchecked properly and overreacts to irritants.

  • Hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders when certain chemicals in certain portions of the brain aren't made in enough supply (not because of some tumor or inborn inability to produce enough of these chemicals, but because the message which should be causing production in the proper amounts is inhibited or interfered with).

How does chiropractic help these problems (or symptoms)?

It doesn't! What chiropractic does is to start the correction of the subluxation that's causing interference in the nervous system and preventing the brain from effecting its proper control. It is the inability to effect control of the particular part, system, organ, tissue or cell whose malfunction is ultimately allowing the expression of whatever symptom is present. By reducing the subluxation, the body can begin to function more properly because the nervous system has regained necessary control. When this happens it is very likely that whatever symptom is present resolves itself naturally.


Yes! Some studies done that support this principle include:

  • In Scandinavia (1987), studies showed a decreased ability to breathe with mid-back dysfunction. This study also showed an increased ability to breathe in children with asthma after just a few chiropractic adjustments.

  • The CIBA Symposium (1965) and the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT, 1989), showed correlation between the subluxation and the inability to finely control many bodily functions as well as disorders of those organs.

  • The Journal of Chiropractic (1980), showed that subluxation causes disruption of the immune system.

  • The European Journal of Chiropractic (1985) and JMPT (1989) showed that chiropractic has a 94% success rate in eliminating the symptoms of colic within 2 weeks when other treatments can take months or not work at all.

  • JMPT (1996) and the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics (1997) showed that chiropractic eliminated the symptoms of ear infections in 93% of cases (43% in one or two days instead of the normal 10-day average with the use of medicines), and was able to eliminate even the most troublesome cases in less than 9 days.

  • International Review of Chiropractic (1975), and JMPT (1989) showed that chiropractic was 20 to 40 times more effective in decreasing the symptoms of hyperactivity and attention deficit than the use of the most common medicines for such problems.

Andrew (6 yrs.) getting adjusted

When should my child be checked for subluxations?

Infants can be checked and adjusted (have a chiropractor begin the correction of any subluxations) just after birth. A schedule of care is usually recommended thereafter just as the child's pediatrician does on a regular basis. Once it is clearly established that the child is free of subluxation, visits can be less frequent. That is, unless there is any question of injurious stress to the child's spine or until he/she begins to stand and walk (when the frequency should again increase).

How do you adjust a baby without hurting it?

There are many ways to accomplish this, and all are extremely gentle! The style I prefer is to allow the spine to move freely and to apply a minute amount of pressure to start the correction. The amount of pressure is about the same you would use if you were checking a tomato in the store to see if it was too soft to buy.

The bottom line is that we all experience subluxations at all stages in our lives, no matter if you're a newborn or 112 years old, today is the best day to get checked for subluxation and adjusted if necessary!

Sean Paul (9/ mo.)

getting checked


Sean Paul getting adjusted