Little Kaitlyn Aylesworth is one happy baby. A big smile rarely leaves the 41/2-month-old's face, especially as she tries to grab the cat when it sashays by. Her squeals of delight are music to her parents' ears. But it's the timing that makes them even more special to Mary Murrell and Rob Aylesworth.
It's almost 4 p.m., and there's no sign of Kaitlyn's joie de vivre letting up. Three months ago, 4 p.m. was the "nightmare" hour. Like thousands of other Canadian babies, Kaitlyn had colic. The otherwise happy infant would begin crying at about 4 p.m. every day and cry inconsolably for hours -- night after night after night. A six-hour crying stretch each night was the norm.
Murrell and Aylesworth tried everything to comfort their only child. Nothing worked until they turned to a chiropractor. Although initially skeptical of the treatment, they now chalk up the turnaround in their daughter's health to the chiropractic adjustments done on the little girl's spine.
Chiropractic treatment for infants is somewhat controversial. The Canadian Paediatric Society says there is no scientific evidence to support its safety and effectiveness in treating non-musculoskeletal conditions in children, such as colic.
And despite glowing anecdotal responses from many patients, and studies from chiropractic associations, the medical community remains leery of infant chiropractic treatment.
But more parents are turning to it, especially after trying everything else in the medical arsenal to deal with the rigours of colic.
Aylesworth works at Royal Jubilee Hospital, and nurses there suggested chiropractic treatment for the colic. Both parents were doubtful, but decided to at least talk to a chiropractor after six weeks of very little sleep.
Murrell herself uses a chiropractor when she has back problems, and the thought of a chiropractor "cracking" an infant's back worried her. But she talked to Dr. Chris Votova, who explained that the amount of pressure used on an infant is comparable to a light massage, not the adjustments used for adults.
"It was like a massage with his thumb," Murrell said.
One chiropractor likened it to testing the ripeness of a tomato.
Murrell laid on her back, with Kaitlyn lying on top of her, stomach to stomach, so Kaitlyn could see her mother's face. Before Votova did any treatment, he'd have Murrell feel the area of Kaitlyn's back where he was going to adjust.
"One side would be soft, the other hard. He'd massage it, and then have me feel it, and both sides were soft."
After about six adjustments over about two weeks around Christmas, Murrell and Aylesworth noticed a marked difference in Kaitlyn. She regularly had bowel movements, was able to pass gas and was consolable when she cried.
The theory is that spinal alignment is important to allow the body to do its job properly. An infant's back may be misaligned as a result of the actual birth process, or even from being picked up.
"It can be a misalignment or sometimes it's not moving as well as it could be and just requires a little mobilization," said Votova, who has helped about 20 babies.