Our amazing practice members and family here at RISE are quite aware of how the United States measures up against other industrialized countries with respect to health outcomes. We know that the U.S. isn’t “doing too hot,” not to mention the newly-released statistic that our beloved state of Louisiana comes in DEAD LAST at 50th in health outcomes as well. 1 I believe now would be an appropriate time to re-hash the old colloquialism about the definition of insanity, which is to repeat the same behaviors and expect different results. These statistics are morbid, literally, and it’s time we start changing our behaviors and implementing daily healthy lifestyle strategies for our families.
One of the individual categories that really chokes me up is the infant mortality rate. According to the CDC in 2016, the U.S. has the highest rate at 5.9 per 1,000 live births, which can be attributed to birth defects, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), maternal pregnancy complications, and injuries.2 Zooming in closer, Louisiana sits in the embarrassing Southeastern “blue patch” of the states, indicating the highest rates in the country, with a rate of 8.0 per 1,000 births and a Cesarean-section rate of 37.5% of all births in the state, the 2nd highest in the country.3 Why do we top the charts in all of these categories?
There are professionals, i.e. pre-natal chiropractors, midwives and support doulas, who can educate and prepare expecting moms, especially first-time moms, about the entire pre-natal and birthing process to help reduce the incidence of C-section in our state, but that’s a conversation for another day. Let’s talk about SIDS.
What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?
Referencing the CDC again, SIDS is a more specific type of Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) defined as accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment. The truth is that we do not truly know what causes SIDS, otherwise we would not have the highest rates in the world. We THINK that it has mostly to do with suffocation, which is why everyone knows not to let their babies sleep face down on their tummies. About 3,500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly in the U.S. each year.2 The CDC continues, “different practices in investigating and reporting SUID can affect the ability to reliably monitor SUID trends and risk factors at the state and national level. Additionally, because parents or caregivers do not usually see these deaths as they happen, investigators may not be able to get a clear description of the circumstances surrounding the death, which are necessary for determining the cause.”2 So, we’re trying our best to understand the cause of the issue, which is a great start.
From a chiropractic perspective, I am always considering the upper cervical complex (the upper neck) in newborns because of the nature of the birthing process, regardless of the method of delivery. We educate heavily on this topic in our office and stress how important it is to get newborns checked for subluxation, a spinal abnormality affecting the neurological system, because of its implications on development and control of body functions. Neurological input from the upper cervical complex has a direct effect on the ability of the lower brainstem, the medulla, to perform its functions properly. The medulla controls vital, autonomic functions of the body like: BREATHING and RESPIRATION, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and reflexes like vomiting and sneezing. As a neurologically-based chiropractor, I keep my eyes open for signs of dysfunction in the upper cervical complex in newborns and young kids for this very reason. We currently do not have any research showing trends between upper cervical subluxation in newborn babies and the occurrence of SIDS, and it would also be unethical for a chiropractor to find an upper cervical subluxation in a child and leave it uncorrected for the sake of scientific research and observation. It is my personal belief, and professional opinion through a process of deductive reasoning based on what we know about the functions of the brainstem, that upper cervical subluxations left uncorrected may be a contributing factor in the incidence of sudden infant suffocation, especially since some of these babies are face up when they suffocate (couldn’t have been the pillow). Why did they just stop breathing? Shouldn’t the nuclei in the brainstem, the respiration centers, have recognized that the carbon-dioxide levels in the blood were too high and sent nerve signals to the lungs to breathe? How did that “skip” in the neurological loop occur? Maybe there was a disruption in the signal. Not only will checking and gently adjusting/correcting the upper cervical complex in newborns have an effect on proper autonomic function like breathing and digestion, but clearing out the nervous system of stress and interference will allow a baby to develop at his/her maximum capacity, which is crucial in the first year when the majority of brain development occurs. It’s 2018, people; get your kids checked!
If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about neurologically-based chiropractic care and adding it to your health and wellness plan for yourself or your children, please give us a call at (337) 324-3031 to schedule your complimentary consultation. We look forward to serving you!