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Reflux, Your Infant, and Chiropractic

By Dr. Molly Casey

Sad Male Infant

Parents of babies, especially first-timers, can be overwhelmed with the barrage of questions that arrive with their little ones. While some things like spitting up are normal and going to happen, it can be confusing to know if -- and when -- something is an issue of deeper concern. After deciding to get care, many ask whether there are natural ways to support the body’s ability to develop and heal. Chiropractic is one of the best and least invasive ways to support one’s body in the healing process; it may also help infants who are spitting up too much!


Commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD is a diagnosis categorized by excessive vomiting, coughing that won’t go away, refusal to eat or trouble eating, and crying during or after a feeding. Normally, food goes from the mouth into the stomach via the esophagus, but in the case of GERD, the food gets backed up and reverses course: Food moves from the stomach back through the esophagus and symptoms ensue. While there are specific tests that can be conducted, GERD is most often diagnosed by its symptoms. It is commonly thought that GERD is a result of an underdeveloped or immature digestive system and that most little ones grow out of it. Medications such as Prilosec or Zantac are commonly prescribed in small doses to decrease symptoms.

Chiropractic and Reflux

Chiropractic adjustments remove nervous system interference and facilitate the body’s ability to function at its highest level. Chiropractic doesn’t cure disease and it’s no different when it comes to babies and reflux -- chiropractic doesn’t cure it. When the spine is restricted or subluxated at the levels of the stomach (T5-midback) and esophagus (T1-upper back), there can be undue stress on the nervous system at those levels; certainly, those structures are unlikely to function, or even develop, as optimally as possible. In my professional opinion, it’s quite wise to get a baby with such symptoms assessed by a chiropractor to see if those joint dysfunctions exist. In my experience, it’s common to see the baby’s symptoms decrease -- and even possibly fully resolve -- after the correction of the spinal restrictions.

Case Study

The Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association presented a case study that followed an infant under chiropractic care for GERD. You can read the full case study here. The overview is this: A 3-month old female was brought in by her mother for symptoms of frequently interrupted sleep, excessive intestinal gas, frequent vomiting, excessive crying, difficulty breastfeeding, plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) and torticollis (crooked neck). The patient started chiropractic care after a full physical exam and, after the fourth visit, there was noticeable improvement in the symptoms. Full resolution was seen after three months of care.

The doctors of chiropractic at The Joint love caring for patients of all ages, including infants. The Joint’s mission is to improve the quality of life through routine and affordable chiropractic adjustments. If you or someone you know has a little one who is suffering, let us help!

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