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Category: Book Reviews
Date 10-mar-2003
Title The Best - Kept Secret to Raising a Healthy Child …and the Possible Prevention of Sudden Infant Deat
Author Craig Wehrenberg, D.C.; Tracy Mulhall-Wehrenberg, D.C. www.stopsids.org
Main Condition/ Disease  SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome
Publisher Specific Chiropractic, New York 2000
Review The Wehrenbergs in this book propose a theory for the cause and correction of sudden infant death syndrome. They draw on the not so insignificant amount of research and other evidence which points to the brainstem area, in particular the occiput to atlas (skull base to C1 vertebra) joint as being a causal factor in this [SIDS] condition. The theory they have named as Atlas VSC-SIDS theory, VSC meaning vertebral subluxation complex. They suggest that the VSC can be caused by the birthing process where forces are applied to the occiput-atlas area as the baby passes through the birth canal, and also forces are applied by “certain obstetrical situations ...including, but not limited, a very fast delivery, premature delivery, breech delivery and caesarean delivery.” Instruments used in the birth delivery such as forceps and vacuum extractors may also apply extreme forces and place a new born at risk of injury. These can place stretching forces on the upper spinal cord and brainstem, which if injured, can have catastrophic repercussions for the infant. The result is more than likely a misalignment of the occiput on the atlas vertebra, which can and does result in compromise of critical neurological and vascular structures in the upper cervical spine, especially near the skull base. These findings are consistent with my own in relation to the consequences of such a misalignment on the health of children and adults. The Wehrenbergs have found over 100 research papers, which point to the brainstem area as being highly implicated in sudden infant death syndrome. In this book they cite many of these papers and providing a very convincing argument that VSC is a prime causal factor in not only SIDS but also other infantile conditions. They propose three hypotheses as to why Atlas VSC might cause SIDS. The first being John Grostic’s “Dentate Ligament Cord Distortion Hypothesis”, where it is suggested that an Atlas VSC can cause, by means of the dentate ligament attachments to the spinal cord, direct stress, distortion and mechanical irritation resulting in “venous occlusion with stasis of blood and result in anoxia in areas of the upper cervical cord.” The second hypothesis is “Proprioceptive Insult”, where the Atlas VSC can interfere with the mechanoreceptors and hence proprioceptive feedback to the brain from the upper cervical area and have an effect on the entire nervous system. They cite a paper by Drs. Kleinman and Crowe in which it is suggested “an upper cervical misalignment can adversely affect reticular formation activity by abnormal afferentation to the thalamus.” The third hypothesis is the “Vertebral Artery Ischemia Theory”, which suggests that because of the proximity of the vertebral arteries and their tortuous pathway into the brain from C6, excessive axial rotation of the atlas can occlude the vertebral artery and cause an ischemia to the brainstem, where key cranial nerves like the vagus have their origin. I actually think that this theory is probably close to the mark, but I also suggest, as I have described in my description of the atlas subluxation on this website, that the cranial nerves which exit the skull base in close proximity to the atlas can also be compromised by the muscles and ligaments around them. These cranial nerves being the vagus, spinal accessory, glossopharyngeal and hypoglossal. There is not much space at the skull base and any anatomy book will reveal just how easy it might be for critical structures like these to be affected by muscular compression or traction. I think that this theory explains why, before I had attended a chiropractor that if I was to lie on my stomach and turn my head to the left that my blood pressure would drop to 70/50 and I suddenly felt quite ill and light-headed. The only way I was able to prevent this occurring whilst sleeping was to wear a soft cervical collar. Because of the difficulty of identifying infants pre-disposed to SIDS the Wehrenbergs suggest screening each child for atlas subluxations shortly after birth, and research being directed towards those infants who are classified as “near miss” and those experiencing sleep apnea events and other breathing or heart beat irregularities. The Wehrenbergs are upper cervical chiropractors, specialising in the atlas orthogonal (AO) approach as developed by Roy Sweat, D.C. as summarised in the upper cervical techniques section of this website. They explain the AO approach in their book and it seems to me that this particular approach is particularly suited to children. In summary, Dr. Craig and Dr. Tracy have put together very plausible evidence that the Atlas VSC is a cause of SIDS and that specific upper cervical chiropractic can be utilised to effectively reduce the risk of SIDS occurring in your children. I have witnessed many children respond very positively to upper cervical adjustments, and remember one little girl in particular with epilepsy who was experiencing 30 or so sleep apnea events a night and multiple epileptic attacks each day. These were reduced substantially after only one upper cervical adjustment and the parents noticed positive changes in that little girl soon afterwards. Unfortunately, for them they live 5,000 kilometres away from one of only a handful of upper cervical chiropractors in Australia. There are so few specific upper cervical chiropractors in the World, around 3% of the total number of chiropractors. I urge all chiropractors to add ‘specific’ upper cervical chiropractic to their practice. It’s what B.J. Palmer would have wanted and you’ll be absolutely amazed at the positive changes in people across many conditions and diseases following specific upper cervical adjustments.A last comment is a call for more research funds to be put towards upper cervical chiropractic research. You can donate toward SIDS research at www.stopsids.org and support chiropractic research by becoming a subscriber to research www.jvsr.com.
Keywords SIDS, atlas vertebral subluxation complex, vertebral artery, ischemia, chiropractic, upper cervical,

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