Every parent at some time has been awakened at night by a sick baby crying in misery. He can't tell you where it hurts. Nothing makes you feel more helpless. Nothing makes you realize more quickly that your child's health is precious. Returning your child to good health becomes your number one priority. But the fact is, illness is often easier to prevent than it is to cure.

Many times, even basically healthy children are repeatedly affected by illness; colds, flu, ear infections, allergies, and asthma. Some parents accept this as a routine part of childhood. However, most often these ailments show up first in children with weakened immune systems. A strong, healthy immune system gives your child high resistance to disease and infection. However, when the immune system is weakened or compromised, disease and infection are given an opportunity to flourish.

How the immune system affects health
To work properly, the immune system must communicate with the brain through neural pathways in the body. When something interferes with these neural messages, errors occur, and the immune system can make mistakes. Allergies and asthma are examples of a malfunctioning immune system.

The main place where these inferences can occur is in our neural "superhighway," the spinal cord. When spinal vertebrae become misaligned or are not moving correctly, they can rub, stretch or twist adjacent nerves creating what doctors call a vertebral subluxation. It can affect the health and function of virtually every other tissue, organ and system of the body.

Only a Doctor of Chiropractic has the expertise to properly evaluate and treat spinal subluxations. The goal of chiropractic is to find and correct interferences to the body's own natural state of good health, not just to treat symptoms.

What causes subluxations in children?
Spinal subluxations resulting from stresses on our bodies can occur at any age, even in babies or very young children. It may begin with the trauma of birth when 40 to 50 pounds of pressure is exerted on an infant's neck. Powerful contractions squeeze their small bodies while the baby's head is forced to rotate through the birth canal. This results in considerable stress on the neck, spine, nerves and muscles.

As your child grows, his spine suffers a variety of jolts, bumps, spills, and twists in normal daily activities. Learning to walk, falling off a bike or skates, landing wrong on a trampoline, sports injuries, or a multitude of other things can add up to abnormal stress on the spine. While this stress may not cause noticeable symptoms for some time, hidden structural changes can affect the health of spinal nerves, and in time, the whole body.

When spinal problems are left untreated, the body begins to change and adapt, trying to compensate for the problem. This can mean trouble for your child's future health. Fortunately, it is in early childhood when these underlying problems are most easily detected and corrected. Because babies and children grow rapidly, their pliant muscles, ligaments, and bones change quickly too. This may be why they respond so well to early treatment.

Be alert for early signs of spinal problems
Bad posture and scoliosis, a deforming disease of the spine, can develop in childhood and adolescence, especially during periods of rapid growth. Stay alert for signs of spinal trouble in your child; tilting the head, neck sensitivity, trouble lying on back, difficulty in breastfeeding, prolonged crying or irritability, signs of swelling or pain, and in older children, complaints of headache, backache or pain in the arms or legs.

Chiropractic can help your child be healthier
Scientific studies evaluating the effects of chiropractic care on children have indicated some very positive findings. A study in 1989 compared the patients of 200 pediatricians with 200 children who had been under the care of chiropractic doctors. The overall health of the chiropractic children was superior with fewer ear infections, fewer allergies, less tonsillitis, and less need for antibiotics.

A study from Denmark shows encouraging evidence that infants with colic are helped by chiropractic care, even when more traditional treatments fail. Of 316 babies treated by 73 chiropractors in 50 different clinics, improvement was reported in more than 90% of these children. Children with allergies and asthma often show significant improvement under chiropractic care also.

A lifetime of good - or ill - health begins at birth. That's why most parents prefer to have their children checked by a Doctor of Chiropractic shortly after birth and periodically throughout childhood. In addition, your chiropractor can offer you guidance in the areas of proper nutrition, rest, and exercise for your child.

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