Chiropractic Helps Kids Grow Up Healthy!

How Chiropractic Can Help Kids Who Have Failure to Thrive

Posted: February 13, 2014
By: Dr Christine Anderson

A healthy appetite can ensure adequate weight gain!

How Chiropractic Can Help Kids Who Have Failure to Thrive

"Failure to Thrive" is a general diagnosis without a precise definition.  The diagnosis of failure to thrive is usually made when a baby, infant, or toddler's height, weight, and head circumference consistently falls below the set standards.  Los Angeles pediatric chiropractor Dr. Christine Anderson also cautions that the standard charts do not take into consideration the stature of the parents and whether a child is breast or bottlefed formula.  


There are certain guidelines, however, which can help determine if failure to thrive is an issue for your baby.  Newborn babies should be eating a few ounces 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.  When they are 2-3 months old, they may only eat 6-8 times per day, but they will consume more at each sitting.  At 4 months, 30 ounces per day usually provides aqequate nutrition for your growing infant.  If you are breastfeeding and want to know how much your baby is consuming, you can weigh them before and after feeding.  It is unwise to bottle feed your newborn expressed milk until they are established at the breast, usually at one month.   Babies should double their birth weight by 4 months and triple it by 1 year.


The more serious causes of failure to thrive in babies include chronic liver disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, cleft lip or palate, infection, metabolic disorders and chronic illness.  Failure to thrive may also be caused by gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD), food sensitivity, and chronic diarrhea.  

GERD, acid reflux and excessive spitting up mean that milk may be going into your baby, but the nutrition is not being absorbed.  There is research to support that chiropractic may help with GERD. (1)  The nervous system controls all the functions in the body, including the digestive system.  Gentle chiropractic adjustments can remove irritation from the spinal nerves, facilitating normal body function, without using drugs.  If the diaphram becomes restricted, releasing it can also help GERD, reflux and excessive spit up.  


People often wonder how a newborn baby, infant or child could need chiropractic at such a young age.  We forget that birth is one of the most traumatic events that we will undergo in our lives!  Unfortunately, modern obstretrics has only made it tougher on those who are trying to make their way down the birth canal.  Any intervention, such as forceps, vacuum extraction and cesarean section increase the amount of trauma to the spine and nervous system.


A German medical doctor by the name of Gutmann studied 1000 infants and concluded that a misalignment, or subluxation,  of the first vertebra in the neck, called the atlas, could cause problems with a child's motor system and create a lowered resistance to infections, especially of the ear, nose, and throat.  He found that spinal adjustment of the atlas helped with failure to thrive, along with torticollis, infantile scoliosis, sleeping problems, bronchitis, and growing pains.  (2)


Breastfeeding issues in a newborn need to be addressed quickly, so failure to thrive does not result.   Many women visit lactation consultants to make sure they are using proper form in breastfeeding.  While this is important, it is even more vital for the newborn to have a checkup with a pediatric chiropractor as soon as possible after birth to ensure that the baby is latching on correctly and sucking efficiently.  Any problems in the palate, cranial sutures, jaw, or upper neck can be detected and taken care of with gentle adjustments and cranial release.  (3)


Dr. Christine Anderson has noninvasive ways to screen whether or not your breastfeeding baby has sensitivities to foods you are eating.  She also uses muscle testing at her Hollywood, CA office to determine if a formula may be causing digestive upset in your baby.  If a breastfeeding mother is using any medications, this may also affect the development of the baby. (4)


A major concern for Dr. Anderson is that your child's nervous system is developing properly.  As part of your baby's wellness visit, Dr. Anderson will ensure that your child's primitive reflexes are intact and that they are meeting their milestones on time.  Milestones occur as a byproduct of nervous system development and any delay is a red flag.   Primitive reflexes are then checked to make sure they dissappear and postural reflexes take their place.  Dr. Anderson is certified in Childhood Development Disorders through the renowned Carrick Institute and is able to be proactive in getting your child on track with simple exercises you can do at home, as well as specific chiropractic adjustments, if any problems are detected.  


Another sign that your child's nervous system may be affected is if they have issues with the texture of food, smells, or no appetite at all.  This may mean that there is an issue with how their brain is processing information.  Dr. Anderson has helped children with these issues using chiropractic adjustments and specific home exercises she develops after doing an extensive neurologic exam.


If you are concerned your child is not thriving as you know they should, call Dr. Anderson at her Los Angeles, CA office to set an appointment at 323-436-2735. 



2. Gutmann G. "Blocked Atlantal Nerve Syndrome in Infants and Small Children." Originally published in Manuelle Medizine, Springer-Verlag, 1987. English translation published in International Review of Chiropractic July/Aug 1990.


4. To Thrive