KISS Syndrome in newborns

KISS Syndrome in newborns

Many new moms have been bringing in their babies for assessment and have many questions on why their baby favours looking to the one side or may have difficulty nursing on both sides.  Here is one condition that I frequently see in my practice and what we can do to help.

What is it?

Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain, otherwise known as KISS syndrome, can be the cause of an assortment of signs and symptoms in newborns and infants. In a study done by Biedermann (1992), the most common symptoms were torticollis (head tilted to one side), scoliosis (sideways curve of the cervical spine), asymmetric muscle development, slow development of the hip joints and asymmetrical or slow development of motor skills.  Any of these symptoms can make it difficult for baby to nurse effectively, leading to stress and frustration for mom and baby.

What causes it?

Research suggests that the most common factors causing these symptoms include intrauterine malposition of the fetus (baby not in head down, occiput anterior position), the use of forceps or vacuum extraction during the birth process, prolonged labor and multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, etc.).

How can it be identified?

Identification of suboccipital strain requires examination by a doctor experienced in the art of spinal examination. Initial indications can be increased pain or sensitivity of the upper neck and/or restricted movements of the head and neck.

How can it be treated?

Biedermann’s research suggests that chiropractic adjustments to the upper cervical area to reduce spinal restricted motion can shorten the course of the infant’s problems and decrease the need for extensive physiotherapy.  Symptoms can be relieved quickly and effectively by adjusting the cervical spine with minimal pressure, in most cases, with one or two treatments. A frequent comment by parents was that their child ate better and slept better after the treatment.


1. Biedermann H. Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain in newborns. J. Manual Med (1992) 6:151-156.