KISS Syndrome: Inconsolable Baby


3 Week Old Who Won’t Settle or Stop Crying

This week’s One Belly, Two Brains story is about a brand new patient to the office. He’s 3 weeks old and experienced a difficult birth. The mother told us he has a difficult time being set down, sleeping on his own, and constantly cries a “pain cry.” When he sleeps he holds his arms up tightly. His latch is instantly painful every time they nurse despite looking decent from a latching on perspective.


Kinematic Imbalance due to Suboccital Strain, or K.I.S.S. is an acronym used by pediatric chiropractors to describe these babies. Their heads tilt back. Their backs arch. In fact, most of these babies are uncomfortable in any position. What we find clinically is the back of the skull where the brainstem comes out is being squished by the back edge of the hole (the foramen magnum). K.I.S.S. presentation is often associated with traumatic births, which matches this boy’s story.

Foramen Magnum
The large hole in the skull where the brainstem exits is the foramen magnum.

Can Chiropractic Help?

K.I.S.S. is effectively another name for a chiropractic subluxation of the occiput. While I see many infants at Mama’s Chiropractic, I don’t see these a lot; usually the skull goes the opposite way, but if the surgeon has to use the head for a lever to pull the baby out, it can certainly happen. This little boy is the first vacuum-assisted surgical birth I can recall seeing. He showed mild signs of both cortical and brain stem trauma. We saw big changes in the first two adjustment visits. He slept in 2 blocks for 2 hours longer than his normal after the first visit. During the second this “constant crier” fell asleep, arms relaxed, in my hands while I adjusted him.


Biedermann, Heiner. “Manual Therapy in Children: Proposals for an Etiologic Model.” Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, Volume 28, Issue 3, e1 – e15 doi:

Rooks et al. “Prevalence and Evolution of Intracranial Hemorrhage in Asymptomatic Term Infants.” American Journal of Neuroradiology Jun 2008, 29 (6) 1082-1089; DOI: 10.3174/ajnr.A1004

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