The outline I have created here is for several reasons – to share more specifically with you the neurology behind pediatric growth and development, and why I choose a care plan specifically for your little one or to help you see why as an adult, changes can take time because of where the problem potentially started.
What I am helping the body do as a chiropractor is remove interference through a specific chiropractic adjustment in order for the body to heal itself and function at its best. This breakdown will hopefully help you understand why it is so crucial to have prenatal, well baby check-ups and to have consistent care for your little one in order to make change and build a strong healthy foundation for your littles.
What we see from the outside is not the cause. What we see and feel is a symptom or signal that the body is sharing with us to say there is a problem. The symptom is not the problem. When we see the symptom, and only focus on the symptom and start to see it minimize, decrease, or disappear often people stop caring when truly this is exactly when healing is just beginning. Then a few months or a few years it rears itself again – but as a different condition or symptom.
My hope is this brings some clarification – hopefully more questions, and insight into the brilliance of your body and your child’s.
When I am provided the honor to care for you or your child – my training and knowledge leads me on a path to best serve them based on my findings.
I am going to break down some of the anatomy and physiology that makes what I do so crucial in helping all children – and adults – but specifically focusing on our littles.
Please have a read no matter your age as this is so important to help our communities become healthier and stronger.
The pediatric population is in desperate need of an alternative and collaborative direction to the current health care paradigm. Given chiropractic roots, we’re really the only profession that can lead in shifting this disease-centered system to something better. Our children are getting sicker, the percentage of them getting diseases are higher than ever before, and no one is looking at the root cause. We’re mostly chasing symptoms and doing our best to try and curtail them.
We need to offer a true alternative to this downward spiral, and I personally believe that chiropractic has that potential. When we talk about the pediatric population we talk about childhood development, it is really important to understand that in the first two years of life, the gray matter and the white matter in the human brain grows to about 80-90% of its adult volume. By age two, this is probably the most dynamic and most important phase of postnatal brain development.
There is a dramatic increase in overall brain size during this period. Again, 80-90% of the adult volume is reached by age two. You have to realize how amazing that is and how important that is to the general growth pattern development of the human being. By the end of the second year, even the myelination, general myelination has been formed. Concurrent with this rapid pace of structural brain development, is an equally rapid development of a wide range of cognitive and motor functions.
A large increase in total volume in the brain in the first year of life suggests that this is a critical period in which disruption of developmental processes, as a result of innate genetic abnormalities, or the consequence of environmental insults, be they physical, chemical, emotional, or spiritual. They have a long-lasting permanent effect on structure and function. Their facts suggest that there is a pressing clinical need to identify children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders within the first year of life, and to initiate appropriate interventions.
Chiropractic is that appropriate intervention. Major DeJarnette was one of the many great chiropractic mentors and he graduated chiropractic school in 1924, but he realized even back then how important pediatric chiropractic care was. What he said was that subluxation of the atlas and occipital area, or the atlas-axis (cranium and upper neck), area causes what we know as the primary stress on the system, on the dural meningeal system, on an afferent input into the nervous system.
He also realized that most of these subluxations, occurred in the upper cervical region, cranium, sacrum, and sphenobasilar complex, and occur between the first six years of life. These subluxations don’t just cause pressure on nerves but they create abnormal stimuli. That abnormal stimulus affects the entire nervous system through the dural meningeal system.
The total dural structure, when the subluxations occur, is under tension with resulting neurological dysfunction developed at the spinal area that is under the greatest stress. In most chiropractic schools, what we’re taught is to find the area of stress and reduce that area of stress. Basically, that area that’s causing the symptomatic pain, muscle spasm, tightness. What we are not taught in school and learn with many more years of education, training and specialty courses is how to find the cause of that abnormal stimulus.
Part of why I am sharing this with you is to help you recognize when an abnormal stimulus, (not symptom), is coming from so that as a chiropractor I can make a correction for your child, or you, to move your health forward. In our children under 7 we can help make corrections to their physiology to help ensure the abnormal stimulus does not become more permanent. I want to determine where the abnormal stimulus is coming from so a correction will help eliminate the cause, but its effects on the entire nervous system, as opposed to pinpointing in one specific area or process. I want to talk a bit about developmental milestones and how important that is for the overall growth of the human being.
Remember, by the time you are around six or seven, you have an adult functioning nervous system. How valuable is it to you to ensure your family has no interference to that system so it can adapt and be at its highest resilience throughout life because a strong foundation was supported?
Who you are going to be, how you’re going to function, how you are going to live the rest of your life barring any severe traumas, is pretty much set neurologically by the time you’re six or seven years of age. (Your nerve system being the part of your body that controls every cell, organ and system in your body is what I am referring to, and how you adapt and overcome, heal and function to physical, mental, emotional stresses coming at you, (and ideally bounce back stronger)).
In saying that your ability to adapt and function can be positively impacted and strengthened with time and consistency as we age.
This shows why it is so crucial for our well baby and well kiddo check-ups! Let’s help support the next generation to have a stronger health foundation.
The first period that we talk about is from 15 to 20 weeks of fetal age. The neurons of the cortex are being formed in utero. The neurons are being developed up to nine months of postnatal life. Again, this is the most vulnerable period for the fetus and infant.
Period two is at 30 weeks prenatal to 12 months postnatal. Here, rapid formation of glial cells, axons, and dendrites or the synapses, myelin, and enzyme systems for neurotransmitter formations occur. These glial cells are bound to the neurons that help support the repair in case there are injuries. Again, we’re not only setting up the system, the roadways, and the pathways, but we’re setting up the back-up emergency systems in the nervous system that we’re going to be functioning with for the rest of their life.
Dendrites and axons also start to make very rich interconnections. There are about a thousand to 100,000 synapses that form every day of the first year of life. The third period is when the myelin sheath begins to get laid down. Now, the myelin sheath, as we know, are the roadways, the communication system from the brain to the rest of the system. They determine how fast and how much input can get through that system. – Super important right!
The fourth period is where the enzyme systems start to occur, and our bodies start to produce neurotransmitters. (Important in mental health and bodily function). Again, we are laying down the foundations for the nervous system.
The fifth period is the growth of the neuron cell size. At a newborn level, they are functioning with a spinal cord at a reflex level, and all levels of the brain are there, but they are not yet integrated. When we’re born, we have all the mechanics, all the systems, all the neurons, all the myelin sheaths that we need to function as a human being. What our next phase of life is how we integrate them.
Chiropractic checks for any interference here to support healthy communication to allow these processes to happen.
We are born with all the raw materials needed to adapt and learn from our environment. We become specialized. Our brain is shaped by our experiences. These experiences are obviously physical, chemical, and emotional experiences that we get and glean from our environment. We are born with most of the brain cells that we need. 90% of the gray and white matter are present. Myelination of the white matter proceeds rapidly after birth. Matter of fact, the cerebellum itself, which is our main processing center, (at the back of the brain), grows 240% in the first year of life. The synapses that are being formed are dependent on both quality and quantity. (No interference in the dural meningeal system, the nerve system, the CSF flow etc).
Again, as I said, 1,000 to 100,000 synapses are being formed. These first two years of life with this rapid elaboration, these synapses correspond with an overall increase in gray matter in those first two years. The synaptic growth pattern actually maximizes and reaches its highest level of function by eight years. Again, early intervention, this early correction of these subluxation and afferent patterns, or signals, are extremely important for the final development of the child.
As we grow, and as we start to process more information, and as our brains start to develop and make interconnections, we start to hit social, developmental milestones. And of course, as we realize now in North America the number or type of illness on the “spectrum,” is broadening so much that there’s about 1 in 68 children diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum. When I started in practice the number was 1 in 2,500 in 1999. So developmental milestones and how those are interfered with in terms of sequence and having a milestone such as crawling reflects how well our nerve system is integrating thus leading to how well we process information. This is extremely important is it not? How we receive, process, integrate and react or respond is all a part of how the nerve system develops.
In the first three months, we start to form deliberate responses and a calm interest in people. We start to look a little bit outside of ourselves. By five to six months, we start to interact more with the outside world. We start to have enough information to get feedback from our system, what works for us, and how we can communicate somewhat with the outside world. Emotions like surprise, joy and frustration are becoming more evident.
By the time we are 10 months old, we actually try to understand what others are interested in. We are actually looking outside enough to get an idea what makes someone else happy, like what my actions do and how do they affect others? This occurs in the first 10 months of life. By 18 months, we actually develop self-awareness. We become complex emotions, where we keenly get things like pride. We’re proud of what we do. If we learn to walk or talk, if someone acknowledges us, we can see if that’s good.
We also start to set up defiance. We start to find ways to develop who we are. Given that the cognitive regions of the cerebellum, which again as I said grows 240% in the first year, these have reciprocal projections with non-primary areas, such as the frontal-parietal-occipital association cortex.
So subluxations in the area of the atlas-occipital region, which affect growth and input into the cerebellum, can potentially cause changes in social development as we start to process as early as three months and up until the first 18 months. The extremely rapid growth of the cerebellum during this period is a prerequisite for specific aspects of later cortical development.
So what I am saying here is if there are imbalance in the way the cerebellum develops, that’s going to affect our life – our emotional, functional, and logical behavior, because that is a system that is going to process that information and basically tell the rest of the brain how it needs to work. We must understand that the period from birth to age two is probably the most dynamic, important phase of postnatal development in humans.
It is driven mostly by gray matter growth. White matter growth is slower and doesn’t completely finish until about age 10. So just to reiterate why this is so important and when I make recommendations the problem is not the symptom you see! The symptom is a signal that there is an imbalance, a pattern of subluxation impacting the nerve system negatively.
So from prenatal – to birth to 7 is so important. Especially birth until 2 to ensure there is no interference. In those first two years of life, in year one, 1,000 to 100,000 synapses are occurring per neuron. The brain grows two and a half to three times its normal size. The cerebellum grows 240%.
By age two, 80-90% of the adult volume, especially the gray matter, is formed within our brain. By the age of six, 90 % of our motor and sensory functional integration has occurred. As I said earlier, when the brain starts to develop and when we’re born, we have all the processes and all the parts necessary, but we don’t start to make those connections until we start to develop, especially in that first three months of life, then five months, then eight months, and then again at 18 months.
And again, 90% of our nervous system, how it functions will be set by the time we are six or seven years old. Full myelination finally occurs at age 10.
Please reach out with comments or thoughts. I am hoping this shows you the depth of the issue – and the depth and consistency of which it needs support for healing.