My oldest son, Zachary, was born three months early at 28 weeks. He weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces and had a lot of difficulty getting off of the ventilator due to infections that were not controlled well. At three weeks old he was moved from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the hospital he was born in to the University of Iowa NICU. Zachary spent another 10 weeks there until we were able to take him home. We were fortunate to have a chiropractor who specializes in pediatrics, and was a classmate of my fathers, be able to treat Zachary in the NICU. The entire time he was in the NICU, Zachary received chiropractic care because we understood that chiropractic care can help the body function better. Based on previous experience and recent research I can say that chiropractic care is of great help to the health of premature newborns.
This study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at osteopathic manipulation (OMT) which is very similar to chiropractic manipulation. Looking at the methods of this study and reading their references, the manipulation techniques used are the same that you will find any chiropractor with pediatric experience using. During this study the authors took 110 newborn infants born between 32 and 37 weeks and randomized them into a group that received standard care + OMT and another that received standard care alone. Standard care is the usual care a preemie would get in the NICU based on need and OMT was provided by a osteopath twice a week for the duration of the babies hospital stay. The study looked at length of hospital stay between the two groups and found that the babies who received OMT had shorter hospital stays then the group that was just given standard care. Additionally the authors found that OMT resulted in a net savings of 740 euros per newborn per length of stay. The authors conclude; “This study shows evidence that the sooner OMT is provided, the shorter their hospital stay is. There is also a positive association of OMT with overall reduction in cost of care.”
There is strong evidence for the use of manipulative care that does more than just provide for relief of back pain, you just have to open your eyes. Chiropractic care for premature newborns, or an children, has been demonized by many associated with the AMA for a century. They claim no benefit with severe risks. If you read this paper all the way you will find that they report no adverse events or ill effects with any baby who received OMT. You will also find that beyond reducing length of stay, there is evidence that OMT improves gastrointestinal function, enhances nipple feeding function, reduces inflammation, and improves autonomic nervous system function in newborns and adults. The fears that manipulative therapy is dangerous to children or the notion that it is of little benefit has no evidence in the literature. The evidence is on our side, all they have is supposition and conjecture.
Like the osteopathic profession, chiropractic was founded on the knowledge that if we make adjustments to the spine and soft tissues we can improve body functioning at any stage of life. Despite the evidence, you won’t find many osteopaths who perform OMT but you can find many chiropractors, like us, who still use manipulative therapies on our patients including newborns. If you want to lean more, give me a call I would be happy to discuss chiropractic and how we can help the health of you and your family, newborns included.