Many chiropractors are saying that all babies need to have their spines checked to determine if vertebral subluxations are present. Subluxations may exist at birth, or they might even be produced by the birth process. New studies now indicate that many newborns have spinal nerve involvement that could threaten their health and, in some cases, their lives.


Abraham Towbin, M.D., a Harvard University pathologist, found evidence of spinal injury as a result of the birthing process. He called it “precipitous delivery techniques,” meaning excessive intervention—both mechanically and physically. Modern obstetrics seem to emphasize speed of delivery. Dr. Towbin further states that he found evidence of spinal injury in many cases of unexplained crib deaths and respiratory conditions. He quotes an earlier study by Mathew Duncan, who discovered that it took 90 to 140 pounds of pull pressure on an infant to produce spinal damage. Dr. Towbin states that this amount of pressure is not uncommon in the normal delivery process. According to his work, the birth process, under even the best controlled conditions, is possibly a traumatic event for the newborn.

Robert Mendelsohn, M.D., states that obstetricians are trained to intervene, and adds that, in a substantial percentage of cases, this interference adversely affects the physical or intellectual capacity of the child for the rest of his or her life.

Can Chiropractic Help Children?

The effectiveness of chiropractic care for children has been a long-standing premise in our profession, and clinical results supporting this have been obtained for years. With the establishment of the Kentuckiana Children’s Center by Lorraine Golden, D.C., in Louisville, Kentucky, clinical data became more organized and the cases more dramatic. The center accepted more serious cases for care, and achieved results.

Dr. Golden broke new ground in accepting serious cases— such as retardation, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, etc.— on a regular basis and getting positive results. She was chastised by the medical profession and, to some extent, even by the chiropractic profession.

Now, more than ever, both chiropractic and medical sources are using research to document both the need and the effectiveness of chiropractic care for children.

Why Chiropractic Care for Children?

Being born is tough work for both mothers and babies. There are a lot of pressures and forces being exerted onto your baby during her journey into the world. A recent study by Viola Frymann demonstrated that 90 percent of newborns suffered the effects of birth trauma: associated strain through the neck and cranial areas following birth. Frymann, an American osteopathic doctor, studied more than 1,500 babies periodically across an eight-year period. She examined all babies within the first five days of birth; in fact, many were checked within the first 24 hours.

This study revealed that approximately:

  • 10 percent of the newborn babies had perfect, freely mobile skulls or cranial mechanisms.

  • 10 percent had severe trauma to the head, evident even to untrained observers.

  • The remaining 80 percent all had some strain patterns in the cranial mechanism.

Birth in its many different forms can be quite traumatic. While each birth is unique, there is always a chance that the baby suffers some sort of strain due to a variety of reasons. Even the most natural births can result in trauma that goes undetected. As researcher G. Gutmann has written, “The trauma from the birth process remains an under-publicized and therefore significantly under-treated problem.”

Chiropractors who care for infants use very specific, gentle adjustments, and most ICPA doctors have taken advanced classes on specific techniques for infants.

What can cause birth trauma in infants?

  1. Very short labor

  2. Very long labor

  3. The use of Pitocin to strengthen/induce uterine contractions

  4. Pain medications

  5. Restricted maternal birthing positions

  6. Pulling or twisting on the head to deliver the infant’s body

  7. The use of forceps or vacuum extraction

  8. Cesarean delivery

Left uncorrected, this trauma continues to impact a baby’s spinal growth and development, reducing the healthy function of her nerve system. This can cause many health challenges later in life that could easily have been prevented.

Nursing difficulties, sleep disturbances, and inability to be soothed and settled are all potential signs of spinal nerve stress in infants.

Although all infants should be checked right after birth, here are just three clear indicators to find a chiropractor who cares for infants.

  1. His head tilts to one side, even after you straighten it.

  2. She seems to have difficulty turning her neck to one side.

  3. He has difficulty settling down or sleeping soundly.