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KISS & KIDD Syndrome: is your child showing symptoms?

Is your baby showing signs of imbalance or asymmetric development in the face, neck, and/or spine?
Favoring one side during feeding, sleeping, or laying down?
Were there any complications during delivery, such as a prolonged labor or cesarean section?
Is she/he showing signs of restricted motion in the neck?
Experiencing restless sleep or difficulty in feeding?

If you answered YES to any combination of these questions, your baby may be experiencing KISS Syndrome.

Before and After Chiropractic care performed in office by Dr. Dara Lynne DaCunha

What is KISS Syndrome? 

KISS Syndrome is not a disease.
KISS is the abbreviation for Kinematic Imbalance due to Suboccipital Strain – a collection of clinical signs and symptoms due to an imbalance in motion related to stressors on the upper cervical spine of newborns that only chiropractors are fitted to examine and correct.

A study in the Journal of Manual Medicine conducted by Biedermann in 1992 identifies the most common symptoms:

  • torticollis (head tilted to one side, difficulty keeping their head in the middle,),
  • asymmetric muscle tone, asymmetrical use of the extremities (arms & legs)
  • cervical scoliosis (sideways curvature of spine),
  • underdevelopment of hip joints,
  • unilateral sleeping position,
  • opisthotonos (backward arching of the head, neck, and spine) Unable to lie on the back, as this forces the head into anteflexion
  • faulty position of the feet,
  • restless sleep, and not eating or drinking well
  • tenderness in the neck
  • asymmetrical head/facial shape
  • uniform sleeping posture; the child cries if the mother tries to change its position

Biedermann further subdivided the syndrome into two basic types:

KISS I is a dysfunction in the neck that the child can not get out of by itself. They often have a favorite side, they keep their head turned to one side, and would prefer just one way. When the head is mostly turned to one side, the skull and face may alter to this position. Another characteristic of this type is that the child often positions itself like a C or a banana shape. These postures involve the entire body of the infant.(

KISS II children are often hypermobile regardless of position. These children can usually rotate their head freely to both sides, but may have difficulty bending the head forward. The skull may show flattening on the back and the child may lose hair. There is also an increased tendency toward colic, increased gulping and drooling, and delays in language development.

Before and After chiropractic and craniosacral therapies performed by Dr. Dara Lynne DaCunha showing resolution of facial asymmetry.

Who is at risk of getting KISS syndrome?

There are many known factors associated with KISS syndrome, which chiropractors often can link to neck dysfunction. Parents should be aware of these factors and contact a knowledgable pediatric chiropractor for a thorough assessment and examination of the child. Research suggests the most common contributing factors to sub occipital strain include:

  • intrauterine malposition of the fetus
  • delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction
  • delivery by cesarean
  • born “sunny side up,” face first, or posterior position
  • multiple births: twins, triplets
  • premature birth
  • prolonged labor or difficult birth

These are just some of the possible ways in which the delicate head joint could be pushed out of alignment, resulting in physical asymmetry.

Biedermann states that “the pathogenic importance of asymmetric posture in infants and young children is often disregarded, with the condition either being dismissed as unimportant or not recognised at all.”

Parents are often appeased with the words “he/she will grow out of it”. And it does really seem as if the neck distortion disappears after a while, even without treatment (either spontaneously, or with physiotherapy).

In reality, the baby learns how to compensate for its distorted position and to minimize associated pain. Some pull themselves up or start to walk particularly early, often to the joy of their parents. In reality they are making instinctive attempts to find a painless position.

KiDD syndrome is a long-term consequence of untreated KISS syndrome.

Because children do not “grow out of” the problems caused by misalignment of the cervical vertebrae, and because the effects of untreated KISS syndrome on development can be far-reaching, it is important that treatment is sought as soon as possible.

Some of the most common signs of possible KIDD syndrome include:

  • Concentration and learning difficulties
  • Writing and/or reading difficulties
  • Diffuse headache, heavy head
  • Delayed motor development
  • Difficult to ride and/or balance
  • Phobia of heights
  • Poor balance, coordination
  • Unstable mood (frustration, anger, impatience or aggressiveness)
  • ADHD like problems
  • Maverick / intestinal disorders (constipation)

Chiropractic treatment for children with KISS and KIDD syndrome

By getting your child tested and treated early by a chiropractor, dysfunctions and pain in the neck could rapidly improve and your child will often resume normal movement. Dr. Dara Lynne DaCunha has extensive experience treating children with these conditions.

Before (bottom) and After (top) of a single infant chiropractic and craniosacral therapies performed in office by Dr. Dara Lynne DaCunha

Dr. Dara Lynne DaCunha will conduct a thorough examination of the child’s musculoskeletal system and initiate any treatment early. Children who have a developmental disorder should be examined in relation to the function of the vertebral column to rule out that there is a dysfunction in the neck in relation to possible KISS or KIDD syndrome. The treatment of neck dysfunctions are painless and have a high success rate as children often respond much faster to most treatments than adults.

Even with asymmetrical head shape, head shape improves way up until the child is 5 years. If Dr. Dara determines the need, she will refer the child for further follow-up to children physiotherapists or other therapies if needed.

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