Breast-feeding is one of the most important gifts a mother can give her child. The nutritional aspect of breast-feeding speaks for itself, not only giving the child every nutritional element they need but providing immunologic protection from a host of bacteria and viruses. Breastfeeding is as important for the development of the cranium and facial bones as exercise is to women to prevent bone loss. At the time of birth there are fourteen underdeveloped bones in the infants cranium. These must be stimulated to grow for proper feeding, digestion and speech.
Movement stimulates bone growth.
Breast fed versus bottle fed babies is discussed below. To better appreciate the importance of breast-feeding from a structural / functional standpoint, an understanding of the dynamics within the head would be beneficial.
Bone is alive and is continuously refabricated throughout life. Read more. Every change in the form and the function of a bone or in the function of the bone alone, leads to changes in its internal architecture and in its external form.
“Wolff’s law” that states that bone is fabricated and refabricated in response to the mechanical stresses it experiences so as to produce a “minimal-weight” structure that is ‘adapted’ to stresses applied to it.
What role does breastfeeding play in the development of the bones of the cranium?
Breast Feeding also fulfills a structural and functional need as well. Structurally breast feeding stimulates the facial bone growth centers. Functionally breast feeding stimulates the cerebrospinal fluid pumping mechanism.
There are twenty-two bones of the cranium. These bones are separated by a fibrous membrane internally known as the dura mater (covers the brain and separates the lobes of the brain inside the cranial vault). This membrane continues between the twenty-two bones separating them through out life becoming the periosteum [outer covering of the cranial bone]. These membranous gaps are better known as the fontanels. The smaller fontanels usually close up within two to three months. The larger anterior fontanel may remain open until eighteen to twenty-four months. Later, as adults; these gaps between the bones become the cranial sutures allowing motion to occur between the bones. Yes, cranial bones should have a synchronized movement but are also able to flex and bend to facilitate this movement.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BREASTFEEDING
At birth, the cranial portion of the skull is relatively large; approximately 25 % of its adult size and reaches about 75% of its adult size by the time the child is one year old. The facial portion is smaller compared to the cranial part. This is due to the under-development of the facial bones and teeth. The comparatively large cranial part of the skull accommodates the relatively large brain that develops first in the embryo. Prior to birth there is no need for any development of the facial bones since it would hinder movement down the birth canal.
At this point the individual bones are easily identifiable because ossification is still incomplete, especially along the margins. At this stage the bones are thin, consisting of a single pliable layer without a spongy middle. Bone is developed from two types of ossification centers — intramembranous and intracartilaginous. lntramembranous bones perform as membrane throughout life forming the bones of the cranium. Intracartilaginous bones perform as hard bone throughout life forming the base of the cranium. Cranial bones are developed from 55 -69 ossification centers depending on which author you read. There are 22 bones of the skull, 8 – make up the cranium, 14 – make up the face. The more functionally complex the nature of the bone the more ossification centers present, i.e. sphenoid that is the keystone of the cranial vault has 14 centers while the parietal has only one per side.
The cranium also serves to protect the brain. The cranial bones being membranous in nature will give rather than break when impacted. The cranial vault forms from membranous bone that allow movement for the pumping of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The floor or base of the skull is formed from cartilage to protect the sensitive nerves, arteries and veins running to and from the brain.
Embryologic Cranial Vertebral Segments
The intracartilaginous bones of the base of the cranium form five additional vertebral segments during embryologic development. As with the vertebrae of the spine, a cranial nerves exit between each segment. The cranial nerves are an important collection of nerves, all of which travel directly to the brain rather than through the spinal cord, like most other nerves. The cranial nerves have several functions critical for day-to-day life, so they become very important to physicians, as well as patients impacted by disorders of cranial nerve function. Cranial nerves allow the Abdominal brain of the Autonomic Nervous System to communicate with the Cranial brain.
The Importance of CSF
The pumping of CSF begins around 21 days after conception. The heart begins pumping around day 40. Some authorities consider Cerebrospinal Fluid to be of more important than blood. Some consider CSF – the blood of the nervous system while others view CSF as the physical manifestation of Chi (the vital life force). The CSF supports and nourishes the brain and the entire nervous system down to the fingertips.
The Caduceus: The ball represents the brain, the spinal cord is the staff. The ribbon is CSF. MRI doppler studies have confirmed CSF flows from the brain, down the spinal cord, and spirals back up to the brain
The pumping of the CSF is a complex mechanism. This involves the reciprocal tension membranes (dura mater) separating the lobes of the brain, the membranes of the cranial vault and sutures, and covering the spinal cord while providing feedback from the nervous system in the sutures. The CSF is pumped around the brain and down the spinal cord. Dural ports located at each spinal vertebral level serve to pump CSF down the nerve providing nutrition and energy for proper nerve function. The dural ports which look like nipples give a squirt of CSF down the nerve root during the flexion and extension of the dura mater during the Primary Respiratory Mechanism.
Using a computer analogy it would go like this:
Brain = computer hardware
NEI Supersystem = computer software receiving input from peripheral systems.
Cerebrospinal fluid = “cooling” and power system
Dura mater = hardware frame work
Cranium = hard case protection
Concussions/birth trauma damages hard case altering framework altering cooling power system resulting in loss of cooling and power to hardware altering software performance.
Autoimmune conditions start as a software problem.
Brain bleeds from birth or strokes damage the hardware causing software problems.
Breast Feeding vs. Bottle Feeding
Breast-feeding requires lip and biting activity from the infant to grasp and hold the nipple between the tongue and palate. The nipple used for bottle feeding pushes the lips apart and there is no need to grasp and hold the artificial nipple with the tongue. This system relies primarily on gravity and does not require the normal suckling motion of breast-feeding.
When the infant grasps the mother’s nipple with their tongue against their palate, it causes movement of the cranial bones. The micromotion from the infant suckling causes stimulation to the growth centers of the facial bones to grow and develop normally. Mothers will use a variety of positions to nurse their child using both breasts. This will provide stimulation to growth centers on both sides of the infants face. The sucking motion also helps to facilitate the pumping of CSF. This pumping action is facilitated through of series of lever actions within the cranium. This facilitates the flow of CSF as well as the pituitary hormones, i.e. growth hormone.
Bottle feeding does not require any grasping with the tongue. Without the tongue being forced up into the palate, there is very limited stimulation of the facial growth centers. This lack of stimulation fails to stimulate the facial bone growth centers causing numerous problems, i.e. crowding of the teeth.
The biggest problem is the child will usually be held in the same feeding position. A right handed parent will hold the baby in the left arm while holding the bottle in the right hand. This angles the bottle nipple towards the left side of the infants mouth stimulating bone growth centers on the left side, leaving the right side under stimulated. This creates an unbalanced bite, which is important for balance and the righting mechanism. Dental intervention then ensues with the removal of the premolars, wisdom teeth and orthodontics to force symmetry for aesthetic purposes and to restore proper bite.
One of the easiest places to see the difference between breast and bottle fed children is Kindergarten pictures. It is quite obvious to see the full symmetrical facial features of the breastfed children while standing next to them is the underdeveloped mouth of the bottle fed children. The mouth and jaw are out of proportion to the face and head.
Other Benefits As Well
In a newborn, the Eustachian tube is horizontal and may not drain well. When infants are bottle fed, fluid may accumulate providing a fertile ground for bacteria. The suction created with breastfeeding helps to clear the Eustachian tube and inner ears of any fluid build-up. This prevents the build-up of a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, thus preventing ear infections. This suctions also stimulates the pumping of the lymphatic system. This system serves as a transport mechanism for the white blood cells necessary for an immune response.
This pumping mechanism does not seem to start as efficiently in children of cesarean birth. There is a higher incidence of ear infections in cesarean babies than in vaginal birth babies. Breastfeeding would help to start the pumping mechanism.
Distortions in the cranium due to birth trauma from the use of forceps, suction, difficult or forced labor and cesarean delivery may cause problems with emotions, structure, and function, etc. As you can see in the diagram above, certain areas of the brain control the function of different parts of the body. Distortions pressing into or pulling away from these areas affect the body – good or bad. i. e., A five year old boy with a forceps caused fracture of the occiput and frontal bone causing an expansion of the area controlling speech. By age two was speaking in complete sentences but was suffering from emotional problems due to trauma from the frontal bone fracture and delayed motor skills. The emotional area of the brain is under the frontal bone. The motor skills portion of the brain lies under the occiput.
Newborn baby being checked for birth trauma.
Orthodox medical treatment of Birth Trauma distortions may include the following procedures:
1. Eating soft food a carbohydrate rich diet (usually high in gluten) which trains the child not to chew. This fails to stimulate cranial bone growth while eating. This trains the child to gulp food which leads to choking which is the reason for the soft food recommendation by the medical community.
2. Doing nothing at all. Everything appears normal as in the case of the five year old above. Treating symptoms as they appear later in life.
3. Dental work due to crowding of the teeth, i.e. extraction, braces, etc. This work must be done to save the teeth.
4. Making an incision in the cranium from ear to ear to allow the cranium to expand.
5. Placing the child into a molding helmet forcing the cranium to grow into a normal shape.
6. Lobectomy — Removal of a section of the brain.
Alternative Treatment of the Birth Trauma distortion includes:
1. Sacro Occipital Technique – Craniopathy - Gentle manipulation and molding of the cranium restores symmetry and function to the cranium. The sooner this is done, the easier it is. Many of my patients stop by on the way home from the hospital. Most of the time it is harder on the parents than the child. See image above and below. This may take several visits. The birth trauma distortion does not attain any permanency until around the age of seven. After the permanent teeth start pushing in, correction can take longer and may require chirodontics.
2. Breastfeeding — stimulation of growth centers and cranial motion. This simulates proper growth of teeth and facial bones.
3. Healthy Natural food — In addition to eating a gluten free, casein free, lectin free seasonal paleo diet, while avoiding unprocessed foods, etc. Chewing stimulates growth centers while producing digestive chemistry for better assimilation of nutrition.
4. Parents taking responsibility for the health of their family is the most important aspect of all.
Nutritional Aspects of Breastfeeding
The initial urge to suck in a new born has a twofold effect. One is to stimulate milk production in the mother. The other is that the colostrum acts as a laxative to help eliminate meconium.
Breast milk provides protective antibodies to the newbom before their own immune system begins to work at around two years of age. Mother’s milk provides the baby’s intestinal tract with friendly bacteria: lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These organisms protect the newborn gastrointestinal tract. Breastfeeding is the second most important gift a mother can give to her child. The first being the gift of life. This act of love creates a bond that can last a lifetime for the entire family.