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Chiropractic Helps Infant with Reflux


Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is present when the contents including acids of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus. It is extremely common in healthy infants, so much so that is may happen 30 or more times a day.

Only some of these reflux episodes will result in vomiting or spitting up. These episodes usually decrease with age. Most infants experience relief within the first 12 months of life. It is less common in infants older than 18 months.

It occurs as a result of a weak ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach. As the infant grows, this ring will get stronger and not allow stomach contents to flow backwards, therefore keeping them down where they belong. When GERD is more advanced and does not have clear GERD symptoms, it is referred to as silent reflux.

Abnormalities curve in the spine can play a significant role in GERD in infants. The combination of weak back muscles, structural shifts and a newly developing digestive tract can have less than positive effects on their nerves, brain, and muscles. Weak back muscles will allow structural shifts in the spine to obstruct the nervous system which affects the function of the stomach and intestines. In severe cases, it can result in a hiatal hernia.

This causes nerve interference that will disrupt the activity of digestion and movement of food to the intestines. The nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body and structural shifts in the spine can occur that obstruct the nerves and interfere with their function. Chiropractic care aims to remove the structural shifts to decrease the pressure on the internal organs to improve digestive function.

Chiropractic Helps Infant with Reflux

The 7-week-old infant in this case was suffering from acid reflux and difficulty latching and breastfeeding for nearly a month following a traumatic birth. He also had a head tilt and an upward gaze. He was not sleeping, spitting up food, had pain with swallowing and was underweight. He was diagnosed with GERD and prescribed medications, which did not help him.

The chiropractor examined him and found structural shifts in his neck, mid back, and sacrum. Decrease in range of motion, muscle spasms, and tender points were noted in the neck and mid back. These structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxation, that chiropractors correct.

Following chiropractic care, he experienced complete resolution of his reflux, torticollis, and gained weight. He began holding his head up with no tilt. His medications were discontinued, and he began sleeping normally.

The study’s author called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population.

Reference: Resolution of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Feeding Difficulties, & Sleep Disturbances in an Infant Following Chiropractic Care: A Case Report & Review of Literature. Allison Parisi, DC, CACCP & Stephen Bako, DC. Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health, Chiropractic ˜ Volume, 2020

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