Chiropractic Can Help With Skull Deformity in Infants

Research News Staff
Chiropractic Can Help With Skull Deformity in Infants

New Research Adds to Growing Body of Evidence

Recent research in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – Chiropractic reporting on an infant with a skull deformity known as deformational plagiocephaly reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in helping infants with such problems. The paper includes a review of the literature on the deformity and adds to a growing body of scientific research that shows chiropractic should play an important role in managing these infants. 


“Research is revealing that chiropractic care is beneficial for a wide variety of pediatric problems from infancy to adolescence” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a researcher, public health expert and editor of the journal that published the study “In this case we have a deformity in the infant’s skull that resulted from the use of forceps on the baby’s head during delivery” added Dr. McCoy. 

Deformational plagiocephaly is when a baby develops a lasting flat spot on one side the head or the back of the head. There can be many causes including birth trauma such as in this case. It can also happen when a baby sleeps in the same position most of the time or because of problems with the neck muscles. This condition is also called flat head syndrome. 

When a baby’s head stays in one position for long periods of time, the skull flattens. Sometimes a baby is born with this flattening because of a tight space in the uterus. This might happen if there is more than one baby. Muscular torticollis, which was also seen in the case reported on in this study can also cause deformational plagiocephaly. Muscular torticollis is a problem where one or more of the neck muscles is very tight. This tightness keeps the baby’s head in the same position. 

“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a researcher, public health expert and editor of the journal that published the study. “Chiropractors work with the alignment and movement of the bones that make up the spine and because of the relationship between the spine, nerves and muscles they can effect the head. So it is not so surprising that you’d see this type of outcome.” 

According to the study’s authors a number of sources suggest there is a link between plagiocephaly and the birth process. Possible proposed reasons for such a link include: small maternal pelvis, multiple births, breech position, oligohydramnios, male sex of the fetus, gestational diabetes, nulliparity in the mother, high birth weight, large neonatal head size, vaginal delivery, prolonged length of post delivery hospital stay and prolonged duration of stage 2 labor. 

The scientific literature shows numerous studies reporting positive changes or resolution of plagiocephaly in infants while they were under regular chiropractic care using a variety of chiropractic techniques. Most reported assessment and correction specifically of vertebral subluxation. 

Spinal distortions, termed subluxations by chiropractors, result in structural and neurological interference to the spine and nerve system and chiropractors correct or reduce this interference through gentle and specific adjustments. 

In the case reported on in this study a 4-month-old male was presented for chiropractic evaluation. The primary concern was the head shape of the infant as well as his inability to turn his head to the left. His birth was induced at the hospital two weeks early and during the first stage of labor the baby’s heart rate increased rapidly, indicating fetal distress resulting in a swift delivery. The second phase of labor took 30 minutes and required the use of forceps for delivery. 

The examination revealed vertebral subluxation in the upper neck and lower spine. The infant could not turn his head normally.  

The infant was seen for 14 visits and received chiropractic adjustments to reduce the subluxations. Immediately following the first adjustment there was a noticeable change in the infant with the chiropractor and parents observing the infant’s willingness to fully rotate his head to the left. The mother reported that her child was keeping his head in a more neutral position especially during sleep. By the 12th visit a noticeable change in the head shape had developed. The mother reported an 80% improvement in the infant’s overall health, with specific mention of head shape advancements and increased cervical range of motion. No adverse events were observed or reported.

The authors of the study call for more research on the role of chiropractic care in such disorders.        

Contact Information:

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH

Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – Chiropractic


McCoy Press