article archive

June 2006

Birth trauma

by Dr. Ogi Ressel

Part 1 of a series
First of all, I suggest you give this month's column to all parents in your office, or e‑mail me for your own copy.

We're going to talk about an issue that we, as chiropractors, deal with every day. It affects millions of children, even though most parents are totally oblivious to it and it's most often purposefully hidden from parents. Yet, while unfamiliar to most parents, the topic is very disturbing.

I'm speaking of Traumatic Birth Syndrome (TBS), estimated to be the sixth leading cause of infant death. Mostly underreported and misdiagnosed, it's unlikely your doctor will have any clue, if you mention the subject.

Birth is a very normal biological process. Although it doesn't require "management" as a disease, most physicians and hospitals treat it in the manner of a sickness, much to the alarm of parents.

Both pregnancy and birth have special significance to a pediatric chiropractor. Often, a pregnant mom and child are exposed to harmful, poorly researched routine medical procedures whose effects are not well‑documented. Most parents simply trust their physician and that's it. Such a blind, simplistic view of birth can be life‑threatening to an infant.

My concern when dealing with pregnancy, is the status of the mother's spine and nervous system so that she can maintain a healthy pregnancy. It's important that all neural relays and connections are working optimally. This will ensure a mom has a good, uneventful delivery resulting in a healthy baby. The reason is that vertebral subluxations can often affect a mother's spine causing malfunction, changing the physiology of pregnancy, and affecting the baby in‑utero.

How? An interference in the function of the mother's nervous system will affect the manner in which the baby rotates and turns in the womb, for example. It will also affect the baby's nutrition, development, and, hence, its growth.

These factors can lead to what is called "in‑utero constraint." This is a situation where, in the last trimester of pregnancy, the baby is trapped in a precarious position in the uterus, from which it's unable to free itself. This can lead to serious consequences during birth.

For instance, if the baby is trapped in what is called a "transverse lie" ‑‑ a horizontal position across the uterus ‑‑ it will most likely be born with a considerable curvature of the spine (scoliosis). This may necessitate a long‑term correction with your chiropractor. Or, the baby's trapped with its head in extension ‑‑ resting on the back of its shoulders. This may cause problems with the baby's spinal cord, etc. It's for this reason that I feel very strongly all pregnant mothers should have a check up with a chiropractor to help them and their babies through pregnancy, delivery, and birth.

As well, many women take over‑the‑counter medications during their pregnancy and do not question their safety. The feeling seems to be that if it's not prescribed then it's "safe." Let me be emphatic here. All drugs affect your baby! Most effects have not even been researched yet. The safety of prescribed medications on the fetus has not been researched but it's well‑documented that in the adult population, properly prescribed medications are the third leading cause of preventable death!

Why do I spend so much time on this subject? The answer is simple. TBS accounts for 85‑95% of health problems DCs see, even in adults. Believe it or not, this is a huge problem. During the delivery process, there is tremendous stress placed on the head and neck of the baby and often this stress causes vertebral subluxations of the infant's very delicate spinal bones. This, in turn, affects the spinal cord and parts of the nervous system of the baby and can produce a myriad of health problems. These can appear seemingly unrelated to the process of delivery and can affect your child months or years later ‑‑ even as an adult!

As I mentioned earlier, TBS is a problem largely under‑reported, and one that most people are unfamiliar with. Drs. G. Gutmann and H. Biederman, two German physicians, have done extensive studies on this phenomenon and found that in cases of subluxation generally of the neck area, the baby can literally stop breathing while asleep. This has been termed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

A subluxation in the upper part of the neck area, usually from the process of delivery, affects the spinal cord. In that particular area of the spinal cord, called the brain stem, are located the centers for breathing, the areas that control whether a person breathes or not. A subluxation there can affect these breathing centers causing a baby to literally stop breathing.

Dr. Gutmann also found that 80% of all children tend to have a subluxation in the upper part of the neck, which may make them susceptible to a number of diffuse symptoms that have baffled physicians for years. And he learned that this type of subluxation could also cause lower resistance to infection, frequent colds, ear problems, hyperactivity, asthma and bed‑wetting, as well as what he termed "central motor impairment."

His recommendation to parents is that "a spinal check up after birth should be obligatory." This is so important that certain hospitals in Australia are now having chiropractors check infants immediately after delivery to ensure a healthy spine and nervous system free from subluxations.

Why is this so important?

Your child's spine is her or his lifeline. Running through it is the spinal cord containing billions of nerves that send vital messages and information from the brain to every part of the body and back again. Yes, we all have our own internal Internet! As long as none of these messages are interrupted, your child should have optimal function and the best of health. If, however, there is an interference with this "information highway," such as a vertebral subluxation, the messages sent by the brain will not reach the part of the body they are intended to reach. As a result, the body begins to work improperly. This is "malfunction." It can be a serious threat to health.

This interference will also affect your baby's immune system, lower body resistance and leave your child prey to various "bugs" and infections. Often parents ask, "Why is it that my child always seems to be sick?" How many of you have a child who seems to get "everything" while your other children seem to be really healthy...and you've probably been told this child has a "weak" constitution? What does that mean exactly?

In cases such as these, the problem is that in all likelihood, the child has had a difficult birth and is presently suffering from vertebral subluxations. His or her body isn't functioning as it should!

(Dr. Ogi Ressel, author, researcher, and an x‑ray and pediatric specialist, teaches The Practice Evolution Program, the "fastest‑growing coaching program on the planet." Visit online at and take the Practice Health Mini‑Checkup. Dr. Ressel may be contacted by e‑mail at or by calling 800‑353‑3082. Interested in receiving his weekly THOTS "on seeing tons of children and families in your practice?" Send him an e‑mail and asked to be added to the list.)