Knowing what we now know about how structural spinal shifts can lead to vertebral subluxations and obstruct the nervous system potentially resulting in a cascade of events that leave children disconnected – what do we know about their cause?
In what has become a groundbreaking paper Biedermann, a German researcher reports on his study of over 600 children less than two years old. In his paper Biedermann referred to these structural shifts and subluxations as “suboccipital strain”. The suboccipital muscles are located in the highest portion of the neck and we reviewed what can happen to this crucial area.
Lots of things go through this area on their way to the brain such as the spinal cord, nerves, blood vessels and the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. Research has shown that this area can literally be a chokepoint. What Biedermann found matches what many other researchers have found: the infants and children effected by these subluxations in the neck experienced birth trauma, prolonged labor and the use of things like forceps during their births.
These facts highlight the importance and urgency of having newborns checked for subluxations immediately after birth.
What was the number one thing that brought these infants into Biedermann’s clinic? Asymmetric posture.
This includes things like a tilted head, the head held backwards and awkward sleeping positions that were noticed by the parents. Other signs that something is wrong include: movements on one side of the body that don’t match the other side, sleeping disorders, extreme sensitivity, swelling of one side of the face, abnormalities of the hips and spine, unexplained fevers and loss of appetite.
During their examinations of these infants, Biedermann found that their necks were stiff and had reduced range of motion, one side of the head sometimes larger than the other and abnormal reflexes. Some had muscle spasms of the back so severe that the infants’ backs were arched.
Biedermann also took x-rays on these infants and could actually see these structural shifts on the x-rays which he used to help determine how to adjust or fix the misalignments.
Other researchers have found similar results. Siefert studied over 1000 infants and found that 11 % of them suffered from subluxations in the upper neck and they also had scoliotic ( curved) postures. What makes Siefert’s study so important is that none of those infants had any symptoms whatsoever.
Siefert’s findings highlight the importance of the need for all newborns to be checked by a chiropractor as soon as possible following birth. Biedermann states: “The birth canal is one of the most dangerous obstacles we ever have to traverse.”
These delicate structures in the neck undergo considerable stress during the delivery of the baby due to evolutionary changes in the pelvis to help humans walk upright. Making matters worse is the increase in the size of the human skull to make room for a larger brain.
Children suffering from this type of birth trauma may not show any symptoms or only minor ones in the first few months of life. Later on at the age of 5 or 6 they start experiencing headaches, postural problems, sleep disorders and problems concentrating.
None of this information is new. Researchers have known about it for decades. In the 1950’s and 60’s another German researcher named Gutmann published his findings on subluxations of the upper neck in infants. Gutmann called this upper neck subluxation: Blocked Atlanta] Nerve Syndrome.
Gutmann found that these infants suffered from lowered resistance to infections, especially to ear-nose- and throat infections, insomnia, cranial bone asymmetry, torticollis, walking problems, language delays, conjunctivitis, tonsillitis, rhinitis, earaches, extreme neck sensitivity, scoliosis, delayed hip development, and seizures.
Think about the extent of the effects from this strain of the neck.
Another researcher (Frymann) in the 1 960’s studied over 1200 newborn infants and found that 17% of them had obstructions of the nervous system from structural shifts. Frymann described how these obstructions effected what’s called the craniosacral mechanism which is how the cerebrospinal fluid flows from the spinal cord through the brain and back again. Recall our earlier discussion about how the flow of this fluid gas has been shown to be blocked in children with autism.
This is serious stuff.
Research as recent as 2015 by Waddington tells us that these spinal subluxations (her team referred to them as somatic dysfunctions) are extremely common in newborns. Waddington examined “healthy” newborns from 6 to 72 hours old and found that 99% of them had them and that their severity was related to the length of labor.
Is Prevention Possible?
As we have shown the research is very clear that the birth process itself can lead to structural spinal shifts that obstruct the nervous system and result in a host of health problems many times considered “normal” by the average pediatrician. Research also shows that these young infants and children can improve if their subluxations are found early and corrected.
But that is after they are born. Can anything be done before birth to prevent this from happening?
That piece of the research puzzle isn’t as clear although it makes perfect sense that a pregnant woman who herself has structural spinal shifts (especially in her pelvis and lower back) may be at risk for a more difficult birth. We already discussed how the shape of the pelvis of the mother and the size of the head of the newborn aren’t necessarily compatible even without misalignments creating an even greater challenge. Research has shown that women undergoing chiropractic care to correct subluxations in their pelvis and lower back seem to have easier births, less breech presentations and certainly less low back pain. Whether or not this results in less problems for the infant during the birth process remains to be studied. Whether these children develop more normally than others also remains to be studied.
Given the evidence that does exist, coupled with what we know about the devastating consequences to these children, it is a good idea for pregnant women to have their spines checked for subluxations and if present corrected. Following that the newborn should be checked as soon after birth as possible.