Why Is My Child Constipated?
Constipation has been something we’ve been coming across more and more with infants and children in our community. Many times we’re told it’s behavioral and maybe sometimes it is. That’s why here in our office we don’t guess, we test! We want to be sure if we can help or not.
Why Are So Many Children Affected?
This really is a two prong issue. First part is their nervous system, which is always the base since the nervous system “runs the show” digestively through the vagus nerve and other parasympathetic nerves. The second part is diet – what’s getting into their system.
For most of our infants we find the birth process can play a large role in developing constipation. The birth process can be jarring for a newborn and can be amplified in the cases where birth interventions are used such as induction, forceps, vacuum, or c-section. Many of these processes can place tremendous pressure on a newborns delicate spine and nervous system. Most importantly in the cases of forceps, vacuum, and c-section pressure can be placed on the upper neck, which houses the Vagus Nerve.
The vagus nerve is an incredibly important nerve exiting from the skull near the top bone in the spine and traveling down into the gut. When this nerve gets choked or irritated it can disrupt communication between the brain and digestive system, altering proper digestive function and leading to constipation, gas, bloating, etc.
It’s All Connected
The colon is a muscle. It’s job is to absorb the last amounts of water and expel whatever is left over by contracting in waves to push it out. All muscles are able to act only because the nervous system is telling them to contract.
When the nerves supplying the colon get choked off or irritated due to a condition known as subluxation, which is a misalignment in the spine that creates inflammation and stress on the nervous system, therefore altering the function of the colon.
We find by removing the stress and tension of the spine and nervous system, children slowly start to regain normal bowl movements as the brain can now better communicate to the rest of the body.
What We Eat
The other part of this equation tends to be the diet. I’ve found that as a child transitions to more solid foods, one of the most common foods suggested in rice cereal. Rice cereal as well as grains can be inflammatory to the gut and create constipation. Diets that contain dairy, grains, or sugar lead to inflammation in the gut, which can cause inflammation.
Even mothers who are breastfeeding need to be aware as well. Mothers may notice that dairy or gluten in their own diet may be a precipitating factor as well.
Our advice is to first get your child checked to make sure subluxations are interfering with their bodies ability to be well. Also try eliminating dairy and gluten from you and your child’s diet for a week to see if you notice a difference.