Research: Why Did These Pre-Term Babies get Manipulation?

Research: Why Did These Pre-Term Babies get Spinal Manipulation?

Dr. Chung checking a young infant at a parent's home

Dr. Chung checking a young infant at a parent’s home

This week I found a very interesting study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The Effect of Optimally Timed Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Length of Hospital Stay in Moderate and Late Preterm Infants: Results from a RCT

or Here

I know what you’re thinking.

If I’m a Structural Chiropractor, then why am I talking about a paper involving osteopathic manipulation?

I just enjoy learning about what other people in the world are doing to improve the lives of patients. Especially when these interventions involve the spine and nervous system. Although osteopaths, traditional chiropractors, and structural chiropractors all have some small variation in how they take care of the spine, there are still more commonalities than differences when it comes to how the interventions work.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about the meat of this study.

Infants and Spinal Manipulation

The use of spinal manipulation on children is a controversial issue amongst doctors using manual therapies, insurance companies, and policy makers. Insurance companies have recently taken a pretty hard stance that any manipulative therapy applied to a child is considered experimental and will generally be denied reimbursement.

If spinal manipulation of children is controversial, than using manipulation on infants is borderline taboo. Parents often cringe at the thought of having their baby’s tiny neck manipulated and risking terrible bodily harm to their new baby.

The truth is that there are thousands of chiropractors around the country that focus their entire practice on seeing children, infants, and maternity patients. An adjustment for a child and infant is WAY different than one for an adult in most cases. Infant spinal adjustments and manipulations are very gentle and can barely be felt. There is no forceful turning, twisting, popping, and turning as a child’s spine is still heavily in cartilage rather than bone.

So osteopaths decided to not just study manipulation on infants, but infants that were born pre-term and required monitoring in a neo-natal intensive care unit. Suffice to say, doctors and hospital staff are the MOST careful with the care of these babies.

What’d they Do?

They divided 110 pre-term infants into 4 groups:

  • Manipulation within 4 days of birth
  • Manipulation within 9 days of birth
  • Manipulation within 14 days of birth
  • Usual pediatric NICU care (Control Group)

What’d they find?

  • All manipulation groups had a statistically significant reduction in hospital stay
  • The infants that got earlier access to manipulation had the shortest hospital stay
  • Manipulative intervention provided a net savings of 790 euros per case.

Somehow or other there was a dysfunction in the spine that was fixed through manipulative means.

Should my child be checked?

When most people think about seeing a chiropractor or any doctor that uses a manual form of treatment, they automatically assume that the case has to be related to back and neck pain. It’s hard to fathom that children and infants could benefit from chiropractic.

A friend of Dr. Chung is a pediatric expert and cares for 100's of children and infants

A friend of Dr. Chung is a pediatric expert and cares for 100’s of children and infants. Dr. Ian Shtulman. Learn more about his practice at

Then you take some time to realize that birth can be quite an ordeal for an infant’s spine. Couple that with any falls or uterus constraint issues, and there’s a recipe for the head and neck of a baby can shift out of place. This shifting doesn’t necesarily cause pain, but there are numerous reasons why so many parents take their kids to a chiropractor who is pediatric trained. Including:

  • Ear aches
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Torticollis
  • Breathing problems
  • Colic

These shifts of the spine compromise the nervous system and prevent the maximum expression of health and healing in the body.

I’ve checked numerous babies and infants days after birth, and even right after birth to reduce any of these subtle structural shifts before they become a chronic problem.

The key is to find doctors with experience and training in pediatric care. A comprehensive list can be found through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Not surprisingly, you’ll find my name on that list as the health of children is a big passion of mine.

Did you like this article? Feel free to share it with the people you care about and see if a Complimentary Consultation is the next step to regain their health.

Dr. Chung is a practicing Structural Chiropractor in the West Palm Beach area. He has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals and is a sought after speaker in health and wellness. Follow his blog at or find him on twitter at @drjonathanchung



Natural Solutions for Attention Deficit

Every year, millions of children and adults are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. According to the CDC  the annual societal ‘‘cost of illness’’ for ADHD is estimated to be between $36 and $52 billion, in 2005 dollars.  It is estimated to be between $12,005 and $17,458 annually per individual.

Most doctors will prescribe drugs like Adderall in order to control the symptoms. But what if the problem wasn’t bad brain chemistry, but a toxicity or deficiency in specific nutrients?

Here are 3 easy and natural ways to maximize the focus and increase brain function in the ADHD child:

1. Add Omega 3’s – Most people know that Omega 3’s from fish oil can help people prevent heart disease. However, more and more research is showing that getting your Omega 3’s can actually improve brain function. Your brain cells are MADE from Omega 3 fats, and getting them back into your body has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, and even ADHD

2. Cut neurotoxic food additives and gluten – More research on nutrition and diet show that food additives and preservatives can negatively impact the brain. Watch out for any ingredients containing benzoate, artificial colors, and dyes.

3. Get MOVING– Many people know that exercise is great for your heart and muscles. However, movement is one of the most vital nutrients for brain health. Taking away recess and PE to control kids is the WRONG ANSWER. Those 30 minutes of physical activity are critical for brain balance! New research is starting to show that it stimulates the nervous system and brings balance to brain function.

This is ESPECIALLY important when it comes to MOVEMENT OF THE SPINE. The spine is loaded with nerves that send positive feedback signals to the brain. Remember, chiropractic isn’t about bones, muscles, or ligaments. It’s about the central nervous system which will ALWAYS work better with a structurally sound spine.

Do Kids Get Structural Problems?

“My kids are way too young for spinal problems…”


During my years in practice, people have often asked why we check so many kids in the office. Most people are under the impression that children are way too young to have a structural problem in the spine. For the most part, you would be absolutely correct. About 60% of the kids we check in the office have no structural problems at all, and thank goodness for that.

However, statistics from the Center for Disease Control show some alarming numbers. Each year, over 1 million children between the ages of 0-5 will be hospitalized due to a fall. Another 700,000 will be hospitalized from an accidental trauma. That’s not even including the number of kids who will suffer a trauma to the spine, but are never taken to the ER!

Now think about this, most people will never even know or think about taking their kids to a chiropractor following a fall or trauma. The great news is, that kids are extraordinarily resilient to injury. They bounce back up, and their ability to heal is just much better than that of an average adult. However, structural problems in the spine don’t necessarily cause neck pain and back pain, especially in children. What they can do is create other secondary conditions. Whenever there is pressure in the nerves at the base of the brain from a structural misalignment at the top of the neck, many kids can show conditions like:


Infant Adjustment

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Immune problems
  • Ear infections
  • ADHD
  • Torticollis


These are just some of the common conditions that parents bring their kids to chiropractors for. While it’s not a chiropractor’s job to treat these symptoms, they are signs that the nerve supply from a child’s spine is compromised. On many kids, this can be tied to a difficult or traumatic birth process.

The best part of all is how much kids love getting gentle adjustments. It’s often times a parent’s worst nightmare to take their kids to a doctor. The screaming and tantrums on display at a pediatrician or a dentist can unnerve even the strongest parent. A child and infant adjustment is very different than adults, and you’ll usually see kids jumping on to my tables excited to be checked!

But the most important reason that kids should be checked early is just because it makes sense. When most of us adults develop some bad secondary conditions, x-rays usually show that a problem has been growing in the spine for 15+ years. Why let kids develop the same problems that us adults have had. Just like we take our kids for a dental check-up to ensure that they are free of cavities, our kids deserve a structural check-up to prevent the damage of an atlas displacement complex.