Written by Dr. Adam Coats
Autism, ADD, ADHD, and SPD are on the rise… Why? Because children are becoming more and more overwhelmed by the world we live in.
Is your child having trouble with behavior, focus, learning, emotions, allergies, asthma, or digestion? You are not alone. Read on.
Today, it’s estimated that 1/36 children suffer from autism. Depending on who’s doing the math, this represents a 600 – 1,000% increase over the last twenty years. Almost 10% of children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Sensory processing disorder affects 3.4% of preschool and elementary aged kids. To say we are well underway to an epidemic of neurologically challenged children would be an accurate statement.
We know that the nervous system is affected in all of these kids, which is why hyperactivity, attention issues, sleep challenges, behavioral problems, social issues, and sensory processing issues are so common among these children. The function of the nervous system is to perceive the environment and coordinate the behavior of all other cells. Meaning, the nervous system controls every function in the entire body.
So why exactly are all these neurological issues skyrocketing? Yes, the environment we live in is becoming more and more toxic and stressful every year, but it’s also linked all the way back to birth.
The risk of injury to the upper neck and skull during birth increases exponentially as more interventions are utilized; C-sections, forceps, vacuum extraction, etc. The World Health Organization states that C-section rates around 10% are normal and necessary, and that above 15-20% “likely does more harm than good.” However, the C-section rates in most hospitals vary from 33-50%. On top of that, there isn’t anyone in the medical system trained to check and address these sorts of injuries to the upper neck and skull, so they go unnoticed and unmentioned to parents most of the time.
A brand new study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association in August of 2019 states that birth by C-Section was significantly associated with increased odds of the child being diagnosed with Autism compared with vaginal delivery. This study also found that elective and emergency C-Sections were associated with increased odds of ADHD and Autism.
The effects of these injuries, subluxations as we like to call them, lead to improper neurological “signaling” or “communication” into and out of the nervous system. These injuries when left unattended for an extended period of time, eventually puts the nervous system into a chronic state of stress.
The stress response is vital for short term reactions. It’s detrimental when it’s been “stuck on” for long periods of time. Most of these children have been “stuck on” since the time they were born.
This chronic state of stress wreaks havoc on the digestive and immune systems as well. Both of these systems are intimately linked to the nervous system. Both of these systems are “down-regulated” during chronic states of stress. This leads to decreased motility in the GI system, constriction, cramping, and inflammation. This poor job of breaking down foods and moving them through the system leads to further inflammation and irritation.
Let’s get back to the nervous system for a second. Let’s talk about cranial nerve 10, the Vagus nerve. This nerve is the air traffic controller of swallowing, feeding and digestion. It sends stimulation to the esophagus, stomach and intestines to move food through the body. It exits the brain at the brain stem, right at the base of the skull and upper neck. The physical pressure by doctors hands or vacuum extraction with twisting and pulling can injure the cervical vertebra in the upper neck. These leads to improper “signaling” or “communication” of the Vagus nerve. Which leads to issues with latching, feeding, swallowing and digestion. These issues eventually turn into emotional, social and behavioral issues seen in kids with autism, ADD, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder.
The Vagus nerve also plays a role in motion, movement, balance and coordination. So when it’s not functioning properly, the child becomes unsteady and clumsy as they’re growing and learning to walk. They’re falling on the sacrum at the base of the spine. The nerves that exit here are responsible for passing things through the intestines and removal via the colon, so this area starts to function improperly as well.
Now if your child is dealing with these digestion issues and you’re like most parents, what do you do? You ask “Dr. Google” of course! You read that you should feed your child healthy foods, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Which is accurate. However, because the Vagus nerve and other areas of the nervous system aren’t functioning properly, these foods are harder to digest. Your child’s brain says “Don’t put that food in here, it doesn’t feel good.” So your child only wants to eat things that are easier to digest; processed foods with high levels of refined sugar, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, yogurts, etc. The problem is, these foods increase the effects of hyperactivity, sleep challenges, behavioral problems, attention issues, social issues, and sensory processing issues.
Don’t forget that the immune system has also been compromised. The constant state of stress leads to a dysfunctional immune system leaving the child susceptible to allergies, asthma, eczema, and other inflammatory type reactions. These issues lead to more and more inflammation and irritation and the viscous cycle continues.
Here’s the good news, there is a solution! Addressing those injuries to the upper neck and other areas of the nervous system restores proper balance and alignment to the neuro-spinal system and helps restore balance and function to the nervous system. This can lead to improvements in behavior, digestion, immunity, learning, sleep and more. As always, the sooner we start, the better our chances of having success.
A great quote by Dr. Bruce Lipton states that “You can’t be in growth and protection at the same time.” A child’s nervous system cannot be on the “gas pedal” (stress/protection) at the same time as it’s on the “brake pedal” (growth, development/organization/learning). The result of traumatic birth injuries to the upper neck and brainstem area is a “gas pedal that is stuck on,” keeping the nervous system in a stressed state. Locating these subluxations and correcting them “pumps the breaks” and gets growth, relaxation, and healing working gain.
If your child is dealing with any of these issues, go ahead and click the “Request an Appointment” button at the top of this page and let’s get started. It’s not too late. Your child’s life can transform for the better.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Data and Statistics. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
- Gouze KR, Hopkins J, LeBailly S, Lavigne JV. Re-examining the Epidemiology of Sensory Regulation Dysfunction and Comorbid Psychopatholgy. J Ab Child Psych 2009 37 (8): 1077-1087
- National Education Association. IDEA/Special Education. Available at: http://www.nea.org/specialed
- Scull J & Winkler AM. Shifting Trends in Special Education. Thomas B Fordam Institute May 2011. Available at: http://files.eric.edu.gov/fulltext/ED520416.pdf
- Zhang, T., Sidorchuck, A., Sevilla-Cermeno, L., Vilaplana-Perez, A., Chang, Z., Larsson, H., Cols, D., Cruz, L.F.D.L. (2019). Association of Cesarean Delivery With Risk of Neurodevelopmental and Psychiatric Disorders in the Offspring. JAMA Network Open, 2(8). doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.10236