Every parent wishes to raise a healthy and happy baby. That is why, from the moment you know you are pregnant, you are doing everything for your baby’s benefit. Sadly though, not everything ends up the way you expect it. Some mommies give birth to babies with needs that are special from others. Some needs are not apparent during birth, but get noticeable as the baby grows older. Such is the case of KISS Baby Syndrome where the baby seems to grow asymmetrically and tilt his head on the side.
KISS (Kinematic Imbalances due to Suboccipital Strain) is a rare growth disorder that affects a small population of infants. An infant with KISS will have a disrupted body symmetry and movement. The cause and prevention still baffle many medical practitioners. But according to Kiss Consultation Center Paris, an accident during pregnancy and bad position of the baby in the uterus are contributing factors. If a mom gives birth with the help of medical instruments there is also a tendency for the baby to develop KISS in a rather small percentage of occurrences.
Since very few medical professionals are trained to handle such a circumstance, some parents in France seek the help of an osteopath. But where else can you run to for help?
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What is KISS Baby Syndrome?
KISS is not a disease but a dysfunction of the spine, usually in the upper cervical. Atop the human cervical spine lay the suboccipital muscles. These muscles connect the spine to the skull. Its main function is to enable head extension and rotation.
When stress and strain occur in this region of the spine, it can cause motion imbalance. Thus, babies with KISS have disrupted growth and asymmetrical body development. The asymmetry is often obvious in the face where the baby may have his head tilted to one side and one side of the face is smaller than the other. Scoliosis or curvature of the spine is also common where the baby appears to arch his back unusually.
In early 1990, Doctor Heiner Biedermann conducted a study to better understand KISS and its causes. His book Manual Therapy in Children is the most cited by researchers who further study these developmental dysfunctions.
There are two main types of KISS:
- KISS I where the baby may tilt his head to one side and use only one of his arms instead of both. He will develop limited mobility and motor disorder. The asymmetry is quite obvious in this type.
- KISS II happens when the child has a hard time bending or laying his head. As he grows older, he will not also be able to support his head normally. In this case, he will have difficulty feeding, experience colic, and may develop a flat head.
Symptoms of KISS Syndrome
Disruption of the baby’s body symmetry is the telltale sign of KISS Syndrome. Mama’s Chiropractic was able to document a baby with KISS arriving through a traumatic birth delivery.
Accordingly, the three-week-old baby latches painfully on his mum. He also has inconsolable cries, holding up his arms tightly as if he is in great pain.
It is just one of the common symptoms of KISS. Other warning signs are:
- Lying with their head in an extremely flexed position
- Baby has an unusual favorite side when lying
- Lower motor skills on one side of the body
- Sleeping and feeding difficulty
- Excessive drooling and frequent vomiting
- Crying and colic
- Half of the baby’s face appears smaller
- Difficulty holding his head up at three months old
Aside from the restricted movement of the baby’s head, he may also develop hypersensitivity in his neck. A baby with KISS reacts in pain when his neck is touched.
If left untreated, the child will have a developmental delay in his speech, balance, and concentration. Experts refer to an untreated KISS as KIDD syndrome for older kids.
Causes of KISS Baby Syndrome
When I learned that my good friend Karyl is giving birth through an assisted delivery due to a cardiac problem, I immediately called in for some emotional boost. She knew in advance how this blind procedure can pose risk for the baby.
While she was recovering from the epidural and waiting for her newborn, she was bugging everyone around. “Is my baby blind? Did the forceps hit some bones? Will he be deaf?”
Thank God, the baby was totally fine. He just got a teeny bit of trauma by the ear and a slightly elongated head. But it took no more than three weeks until her baby’s head got back to its normal shape. But indeed, assisted delivery is among the culprits for the rare KISS Baby Syndrome.
Other risk factors of KISS include:
- Wrong position of the baby in the uterus (breech pregnancy)
- Accident during pregnancy
- Prolonged labor
- Assisted delivery via suction cups and forceps
- C-section delivery
- Multiple pregnancies (twin, triplets, etc.)
- Babies born over 4kg in weight
There’s no one to blame for KISS Syndrome. Mothers can only do so much to keep their fetus safe as it develops. And your maternity care team is also doing everything they could to keep newborns safe. Expecting moms should not fear this risk as this occurs very rarely in the pregnancy.
Who can help with KISS Baby Syndrome?
The KISS Syndrome is uncommon and was not studied in medical schools. You can ask your healthcare providers, but the majority may not know of this condition. According to Syndrome de KISS, even osteopathic schools in France are not taught of this dysfunction. So, thanks to Dr. Biedermann for shedding some light on KISS diagnosis and treatment.
An osteopath or a chiropractor can help greatly in the treatment of KISS Syndrome. Osteopaths deal with the whole body in treatment. A chiropractor is more focused on the spine and joint adjustments. So, either one that the parent chooses can help much in alleviating the baby’s condition.
Chiropractic is considered an alternative approach to medicine. Parents need not worry about the safety of the practice because a chiropractor is also a licensed practitioner. They have completed four years in health care school and another two in training to get their degrees and accreditation.
Often, they do not work alone but with close communication with medical doctors in patient management.
KISS Baby Syndrome Treatment
When KISS Syndrome is detected in babies, parents can ask their healthcare providers if they want to engage an osteopath’s service. In some clinics, these two work in pairs to help address and manage the baby’s situation.
The treatment involves radiological assessment before the bone adjustment. According to Biedermann, the doctor may make an upper cervical adjustment to reduce stress. A corrective neck work will remove the blockage and strain in the spine so that the baby’s body can function well.
Osteopathic or chiropractic treatment is not in any way painful, according to Syndrome de KISS. The process involves only gentle gestures and minimal pressures to decrease spinal tension. It’s mostly the handling and baby’s encounter with strangers that sent them into bouts of tears.
But, there’s no definitive number of sessions for the baby to become fully healed. It mostly depends on the current condition and his complications.
Benefits of Chiropractic and Osteopathic Care in Infants
When an infant is relieved and treated, he can resume his normal movement and developmental milestone. Thus, experts advise that engaging a KISS syndrome treatment sooner is beneficial in preventing developmental delays.
But even without the symptoms, more and more parents are engaging in a chiropractic service for infants. Most infants can be adjusted a few weeks right after birth. It is helpful for the newborn in the following areas:
- Easing of colic
- Boosting the immune system
- Treatment and prevention of ear infection
- Improve feeding and latching
- Manage acid reflux
- Proper growth and development
Osteopathic treatment does not redound only for the baby’s benefit. Mothers who experienced giving birth to a baby with KISS can also benefit and prevent recurrences.
Although KISS is not a genetic condition, an imbalanced mother’s pelvis can have a similar threat to her succeeding children. Seeking treatment post-birth can do so much in KISS baby syndrome prevention.
At what age can KISS Baby Syndrome be treated?
Chiropractic or osteopathic care for KISS in infants can start as soon after delivery. But some parents may wait for two to three more weeks before engaging in treatment.
Aside from chiropractic, is there a conventional method for treatment?
Parents of children with physical and gross motor delays often seek the help of physiotherapists or physical therapists. The approach to treatment is somewhat similar – joint manipulation. However, osteopaths or chiropractor often perform manual or hands-on therapy. A physiotherapist, on the other hand, may involve some exercises and other modalities. But on the whole, these two professions work similarly.
What should parents expect?
KISS symptoms vary from child to child. So before the treatment, thorough medical examinations will be conducted. Radiologic assessment or X-Ray of the cervical spine is also required. The comprehensive care that the child needs will depend on the prognosis.
How long will the treatment last?
It depends on the response and improvement of the baby’s condition. So the length of treatment is on a case-to-case basis. Most doctors will require an annual assessment to check on the progress of the child.
Will the treatment have a side effect?
Babies have different responses to the treatment. Experts at Syndrome de KISS observe some children manifesting neuro-vegetative reactions. It may include worsening of the baby’s condition, vomiting, reflux, or fatigue. But the reaction is normal, after which the baby’s condition will begin to improve.
My baby is diagnosed with KISS. Shall I be concerned about my future pregnancies?
KISS is not a hereditary disorder. But the odds of delivering a baby with KISS is high if your uterine placement is the cause why the baby has the syndrome in the first place. That’s why it is advisable for mothers to undergo therapy at the same time as her baby to prevent recurrence in future pregnancies.
Can I seek advice directly from a chiropractor or osteopath instead of my pediatrician?
Therapists and osteopaths work with medical doctors in most cases. While you can directly consult an osteopath, it will be better if the medical doctor and other licensed practitioners communicate with each other in managing your baby’s condition.
Realizing that something is wrong with your baby that medical doctors cannot fully diagnose is a crippling thought. KISS Syndrome is not prevalent thus; treatment is not also mainstream in the medical field. But it feels good to know that you have somewhere to run to in the rare event that it happens to your child.
But remember, osteopaths and chiropractors often work hand in hand with medical doctors. So parents must seek both advice if they suspect KISS syndrome in their babies. The sooner the child gets treated for his symptoms, the better. If the parents act early and know where to get help, a better future for babies burns brighter.
What’s your two-cent thought in alternative and non-conventional treatment? Will you, or did you happen to experience entrusting your infant to their care? Let us know, and we will value your opinion on this matter.
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.