I have always had an interest in working with pediatrics and I had the opportunity to recently take a course in Halifax that taught me about cranial therapy as part of a chiropractic treatment. This type of therapy is often used on newborns and infants, however some of the techniques can be performed no matter what age you are. Whether a baby is presenting with symptoms or not, it is beneficial to have them assessed by a chiropractor to help treat any structural problems before they become symptomatic.
The skull of a human is made up of 14 facial bones and 8 cranial bones that are not fully fused when a baby is born. These bones are joined together by sutures, which act as shock absorbers, prevent the cranial bones from separating, and make room for the growing brain. The sutures fit together similar to puzzle pieces, and are mobile before they fuse. This mobility allows these bones to overlap slightly during the birthing process, and they usually go back into place within a week or so. However, sometimes this does not happen, and small indentations or depressions can be felt in the cranium. Factors during the birthing process may also cause a misalignment in the cranial bones, including:
- a very long or very short labour (this is the #1 factor leading to cranial misalignment!)
- forceps or vacuum extraction
- Cesarean delivery
- poor head position of the baby in the birth canal
- umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
- low APGAR score
Below are a few developmental milestones to be on the lookout for:
Age Motor Skills
Birth - Moving arms and legs without moving the body
- Appropriate reflexes (sucking, grasping, etc)
4-6 months - Cross-crawl pattern and crawling on belly,
- Rolling over in both directions (front to back, back to front)
- Beginning to sit without support
7-11 months - Creeping/crawling on hands and knees
- Sitting without support
12-17 months - Walking with support and eventually unsupported
What can chiropractic care do?
Chiropractic care and cranial therapy for newborns and infants can correct small facial, cranial, or vertebral structural problems. Cranial therapy can help with problems such as facial asymmetry, plagiocephaly, birth trauma, delays in development milestones, nursing/latching problems, and more. If the cranium is misaligned, this can lead to neurological inhibition, although symptoms may not be present until the child is 3-4 years old as different parts of the brain become used more. This is one of the reasons why it’s great to have your newborn/infant assessed whether they are having symptoms or not!
Here are a few common signs that may indicate there is a small shift in the cranial bones:
- Baby always has head turned one way
- Difficulty rotating the head and neck in one more directions
- Discomfort or resistance when touching muscles at the base of the skull
- One hip is rotated forward
- One crease of buttocks is higher than the other
- Unequal crawling
- Aysmmetry of cranial bones or a flattening of the back of the head
- Uneven eye orbits
If you have questions or would like to book an appointment for your newborn or infant, please do not hesitate to give the office a call at 902-404-3668.