According to medical experts, there are several advantages and disadvantages of osteopathy for babies. Osteopathic manipulation of an infant may result in improved muscle function. This practice may also promote healing of injuries to the neck or spine. Osteopathy for babies also may pose risks, such as increased pain that could be temporary or long lasting. If procedures are done incorrectly, more serious complications can occur, such as injury to the spine.
Cranial osteopathy for babies involves a delicate process requiring precision and expertise. When an infant suffers from cranial malfunction or deformities of the skull, a pediatrician may recommend alternatives to surgery. One such option may be osteopathic treatments. The technique is performed by a specialist known as a pediatric doctor of osteopathy.
The physician may use various techniques to manipulate soft tissue surrounding the skull. One major advantage of osteopathy for babies may be improvement in muscle coordination. If successful, this procedure may allow the baby to move his head more freely, and without pain.
Other types of osteopathy for infants may improve colic. Physicians who have practiced osteopathy for babies have reported a decrease in crying in many of their infant patients, as well as a more restful sleep. Gastrointestinal symptoms may be improved as well.
Osteopathy treatments may also improve feeding. Babies who have swallowing dysfunction can benefit from osteopathic procedures. This may include improvement of symptoms associated with infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Obstructive apnea, which is a sleep disorder affecting adults and infants, may be helped by the practice of osteopathy. Infants who suffer from this condition may incur an interruption in breathing while asleep. Although further studies may be needed to substantiate this, it is possible that osteopathy for babies can help with breathing irregularities.
Many medical experts believe that osteopathy may also improve developmental delays. Babies who are delayed in achieving milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, and even speaking may be helped with osteopathic medicine. Some experts also believe that toddlers who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders may benefit from osteopathic medicine.
As with any non-traditional method of treatment, osteopathy for babies may present certain risks. If not performed by a qualified medical expert, certain osteopathic methods could result in injury to a baby's spinal cord or limbs. Infants with musculoskeletal disorders or conditions such as cerebral palsy risk further injury if techniques are performed incorrectly.