17 Apr Infants Delivered Via Instrument-Assisted Birth May Have Lower Cervical Range of Motion
A 2018 study showed that at vacuum-assisted delivery and Caesarean section deliveries were associated with “a higher prevalence of reduced cervical spine ROM [range of motion]"
This study showed that normal range of motion was not particularly common after vaginal birth without interventions, but it also showed that reduced cervical spine (neck) range of motion was more common in vacuum assisted births and caesarean sections.
A summary of the findings
The study took in data from 176 infants under 112 days old and found that vacuum-assisted delivery and Caesarean section deliveries were associated with “a higher prevalence of reduced cervical spine ROM [range of motion] when compared to a vaginal delivery without assistance.”
The study took its sample from a paediatric chiropractic clinic. While the number of infants studied is a potential limitation of the study, it yielded some enlightening results. Reduced cervical spine range of motion was apparent in:
- 76.1% of infants born vaginally without intervention
- 75% of infants delivered with forceps
- 88.9% of vacuum-assisted deliveries
- 82.3% of infants born via caesarean section
The normal range, for the sake of the study, was a mean rotation of between 110 and 75 degrees (lateral flexion) in infants aged 2-10 months. The authors of the study noted that, “the cortical effects of altered cervical spine motion in infants has yet to be researched.” However, they did note that in adults, altering normal cervical spine motion is associated with:
- increased risk of alterations in autonomic function
- increased nociception
- cortical dysafferentation
They also noted that while this information is missing for the infant population, “afferent systems and cortical perceptions of pain are well developed by 30 weeks gestation.”
The most common effect of restricted neck movements in babies that we see at The Chiropractic Domain is discomfort for both parent and baby when feeding. If you baby is unable to turn their head each way, proper latching on both sides can be prevented.
Currently, 19% of vaginal deliveries require assistance and the risk of birth injury is four times higher than normal with forceps and three times higher than normal with vacuum extraction.
We know the delivery of a healthy baby is all that matters, and while vaginal deliveries without instrument assistance are preferred, they aren’t always possible. However, this study certainly creates a bit of increased awareness around the forces placed on infants during birth and the resultant reduced range of motion in around 75% of cases.
This study is clearly only a beginning, as the size of the sample was a limitation, and the sample was taken from a paediatric chiropractic clinic.
Chiro for Kids Special
To coincide with the April school holidays this year we are running 2 special offers for families of The Chiropractic Domain.
Standard visits for all patients under 18 years old get an extra $5.00 off their standard or reactivation visits.
New patients under 18 years old get 50% off their first AND second visit.
Fludder C, and Keil B (2018), “Instrument Assisted Delivery and the Prevalence of Reduced Cervical Spine Range of Motion,” Chiropractic Journal of Australia, retrieved 28 November 2018
Infants Delivered Via Instrument-Assisted Birth Have Lower Cervical Range of Motion - Study Finds - Australian Spinal Research Foundation. (2018). Retrieved 17 April 2021, from https://spinalresearch.com.au/infants-delivered-via-instrument-assisted-birth-have-lower-cervical-range-of-motion-study-finds/