I stumbled across an interesting article published back in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA). It talks about the use of osteopathic treatment, performed on hospitalised premature twins with breastfeeding dysfunction.

Premature newborns and infants are usually required to successfully transition from nasogastric feeding to breastfeeding, using bottle or breast before discharge is granted. If this skill is delayed this may prolong the length of stay in hospital.

In the article the authors discuss a case of premature twins hospitalised due to major delays in mastering breastfeeding techniques. The twins struggled to take all feedings by breast, so a surgical team were preparing to surgically place gastrostomy tubes into the twins’ stomachs. Prior to the surgical procedure an in house osteopathic manipulative medicine service was consulted and the twins received a series of evaluations and osteopathic treatment.

During the course of osteopathic treatment, the twins feeding skills progressed to full oral feeding, which allowed them to be discharged and return home without the requirement of the gastrostomy tubes. 


The article concluded that the report on the twins does not prove that osteopathic treatment was responsible for the improved breastfeeding. It may be coincidental that there was a positive sequence of events, related to the improvement of nipple feeding in both twins following osteopathic treatment. It is also interesting that there were no complications related to the osteopathic techniques during the treatment.

The osteopathic techniques involved in treating the premature twins included cranial osteopathy, soft tissue massage, myofascial release and inhibitory pressure. The application of these techniques focused on the cranium, hyoid bone and it’s corresponding musculature, shoulder blades,upper thorax, ribs and diaphragm and the sacrum.

Osteopathic treatment is one possible intervention to manage or even prevent these complications, so premature newborns and infants can transition without the need for home nasogastric feeding or the placement of gastrostomy tubes. Osteopathic intervention has not been critically studied, with regard to its effect on poor breastfeeding in developing premature newborns and infants. The twins case will hopefully add more interest and support for future clinical trials in osteopathic treatment.

 To read more please click on the link below:

 JAOA Article 

If you have any questions regarding osteopathy and breastfeeding problems please contact The Willow Clinic today (02) 9938 1090