Updated: Aug 28, 2018
We breathe through our skull. Wait what?! Yes, if we know simple biology, then anyone or everyone should know we breathe through our mouth, down our respiratory tract, into the lungs, and through the air sacs by the help of our diaphragm muscle through the mechanism called External Respiration. (1)
So, we breathe through our mouth, but what does our skull have to do with it? Great question, glad you asked. Before I explain the function, we know that in biomechanical science that form follows function so let me shed some light on the form before we get too ahead of ourselves.
Little known fact: Our skull is not one solid bone. (Crazy!)
In fact, it is made up of 5 flat bones “fused” together by what we call in science, synarthroses (aka our body’s least movable joint). However, those 5 flat bones are connected by sutures. These sutures are made up of fibrous connective tissue and act as the main sites for cranial growth during development. That is probably why most baby’s head feels so soft because all their bones are not done growing yet! So you can imagine how malleable the baby’s head is and therefore changes can still be done before the skull “fuses.” All the sutures and fontanels in the skull do not completely fuse until the third or the fourth decade of life. We aren’t so hard-head after all.
If are newborn, child skull is so malleable, it make sense why we see things like ‘Flat Head syndrome’ or asymmetrical faces. How this occurs is when there is any type of physical trauma from the birthing process that occurs, altered biomechanical function can take place. This is where parents see thinning of the hair or flattening of the baby’s head due to sleeping face up with a misaligned neck. Now for asymmetrical faces is quite different. The skull is connected to our facial bones therefore things like larger left/right eye, sunken cheekbone, maxilla overbite, under-bite and etc. When the skull is not fully “fused” and there is still room for development because as cranial bones grow. Eventually these soft spots, fontanels, and sutures start to fuse even as early as their 26th month.
Not all cranial bones are move or positioned the same. Restriction of these growing cranial bones less than 12 months can have unpredictable results. The reason why this happens is each of our infant cranial bones can shift, especially when the baby is in a certain position day and night. This is when a pediatric wellness doctor can analyze and detect what needs to be assessed or if interventions are needed to correct the imbalance.
How come no one told me my baby’s skull is in pieces?!
We wish you knew, but currently there are many misconceptions and just plain no knowledge about the human body. That is why this information is important for those moms and/or dads who want to be ahead of the information game.
Why is it so important to know that the baby’s skull is not fused?
It is this reason. In order for babies to be born naturally through the birth canal, newborn's skull is optimally made to withhold the vaginal forces of birth. Many funny-looking heads post-birth so we understand because the human body made it to be so for the miracle of birth to take place
As for the breathing through the skull. In science, we call it Primary and Secondary Respiratory Motion that involves the cranial bones and the dural meninges. Anatomically, these two structures are connected to each other and affects one another. Research shows that dural meninges is involved with our cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is shown to be involved with important physiology functions such as regeneration of the brain during sleep. (2)
Our mission is to provide information and tools for parents to make a better decision for their baby’s health because when we know better we are able to do better. For further questions, feel free to contact Dr. Wong, DC to see how we can help you or we will refer to another professional who is knowledgeable with a similar case.
2. Brinker, T., Stopa, E., Morrison, J., & Klinge, P. (2014). A new look at cerebrospinal fluid
circulation. Fluids and Barriers of the CNS, 11, 10. http://doi.org/10.1186/2045-8118-11-10