Thriving Kids Follow Up: Beginning Before Birth

July’s event on thriving kids was illuminating and emphasized the value of a child’s emotional health. Our Chinese medicine pediatric practice often begins during pregnancy. We emphasize creating the proper emotional and physical environments for the children even before they are born. Some of this involves parent education, but it also involves changing some factors in the mother’s body. Emotional stress of course is perception and not truly the external stressor. While it is unclear whether the mother’s thoughts and emotions directly affect a fetus, it is very clear that these thoughts or emotions create physiological and energetic changes that do influence the baby. With Chinese medicine we are able to identify how stressors are affecting the mother and to interfere from a physiological perspective to mitigate the physiological effects of a wide variety of physical or emotional stressors. These changes of course influence the genetics of the child through epigenetic mechanisms, and acupuncture can induce changes in epigenetics.

After the child is born, we continue treating the parents as the emotional and physical health of the parents will greatly influence the wellbeing of the child. For the child, we assess their constitution initially, which is essentially taking a look at what has expressed in terms of their genetics early on. This takes the form of 5 main morphological “types” of which there are also subtypes. These morphological types will each tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as certain emotional characteristics. For example, a yin-metal type will have a more delicate constitution and tend towards a weaker immune system with the lungs are particularly susceptible. They may have problems with organizing thoughts or emotions as well. Because a person’s constitutional type is due to certain energetic priorities within the body, in Chinese medicine we can balance out the weaknesses by channeling more energy into the lungs in this case. This will strengthen their immune system as well as improve their coping mechanisms. Of course genetic expression changes rapidly in children and they can evolve into other constitutions. Because of this, within the first several years we see a child for wellness visits 4 times a year, usually during seasonal changes where we evaluate the child’s adaptation capacity.

While we recognize the complex interplay of the mind, body and spirit, our specialty is on the body. We feel it is very important for the family to consult with other health care professionals like the ones on the Interprofessional Community peds panel for emotional support.

-Wendy Yu, Licensed Acupuncturist