Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction in Infants Presenting for Chiropractic Care in Norway
Written by Editor   
Monday, December 11, 2017 12:51 PM

Mild to moderate musculoskeletal injuries (MSK) are common at birth, but frequently missed. Although these injuries are common, their association with quality of life conditions like sleeping, feeding or excessive crying may not always be understood in professional practice. However, birth injuries are implicated in infant complaints. For example, a difficult birth has the highest association with infant colic (now known as excessive crying) than any other factor. Further, birth injury is implicated in suboptimal breastfeeding. Early discontinuation is a trend if the mothers experience problems, discomfort or pain with feeding.  

  • In this study 66% of the infants had postural problems.
  • Neck hyperextension was present in 38%.
  • The inability to rotate their head equally side to side was present in 54%.
  • In total, 24% of the infants did not have the ability to sleep or lie comfortably supine.
  • Suboptimal breastfeeding was reported by 25% of parents, and
  • 12% of the mothers reported pain during feeding.
  • TMJ imbalance was identified in 19%. 

There are no gold standard routines for examination of the musculoskeletal system in infants, and very little research that investigates clinical examination and MSK findings in infants under the age of six months.  There is a need for more precise and early assessment of the newborn infant, with a full clinical examination including biomechanical features like examination of the infant’s neck and spine, cranium, and TMJ in addition to postural assessment, primitive reflexes (for example suck and rooting reflexes) and appropriate neurological examinations. These examinations are routine in chiropractic practice but the findings have not previously been documented in the research literature. This is key to further understanding of any association of observational findings with parent reports of behaviors.

This study was designed to specifically look at the prevalence of neck dysfunction, and other biomechanical problems in the infant that may be associated with suboptimal breastfeeding and other key ADLs. The chief goal of this study was to track routine clinical practice of infant care in chiropractic practices in Norway, by documenting and comparing parent report of infant problems and doctor of chiropractor’s clinical findings. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of neck dysfunction, postural spine problems, and their possible association with parent reported behavioral problems such as suboptimal breastfeeding and supine sleeping in infants younger than six months of age. The aim was to observe any associations between MSK problems of infancy and common behavioral and public health issues. 

In total, 90 infants enrolled in the study. A total of 56 infants (66%) had postural problems. Favorite side of cervical rotation was the most common dysfunction in supine lying. Neck hyperextension was present in 21 infants (38%). The inability to rotate their head equally side to side was present in 49 children (54%). In total 22 (24%) of the infants did not have the ability to sleep or lie comfortably supine. Suboptimal breastfeeding was reported by 22 (25%) parents, and 10 (12%) of the mothers reported pain during feeding. TMJ imbalance was identified in 16 infants (19%). There were statistically significant associations between suboptimal breastfeeding and TMJ imbalance, suboptimal rooting/sucking reflexes, inability to turn head and neck equally and painful breastfeeding, respectively.
Parents reported several MSK problems in infants along with suboptimal breastfeeding and other ADLs, which were corroborated and specified by the clinical examination. More study is needed to determine a gold standard reference for infant musculoskeletal examinations along with the importance in improving activities of daily living and public health through balance of the MSK system.