How Chiropractic Can Assist Babies and Children

As a parent myself, I place extreme importance on the developmental health of babies and children. My firm belief is that there is a window of opportunity during their early years of physical development to begin positive habits that will enhance their health throughout their lives. If these opportunities are ignored, then there is a risk that the child will become an adolescent and then an adult with a lower state of health and function than they would have had otherwise.

These healthy habits include good nutrition, correct sleep habits, proper posture, brushing their teeth, regular exercise, reading and writing and a number of others. So where does chiropractic fit in to this model? We know that 80% of adults will suffer from back problems, and 25% will become chronic pain patients. This has to start somewhere.

A Danish study1in 2006 made the following conclusion “Our study clearly demonstrates correlations between low back pain in childhood/adolescence and low back pain in adulthood. This should lead to a change in focus from the adult to the young population in relation to research, prevention, and treatment”.

Another study2in 2014 reported that “Spinal pain is common at the age of 11-15 years, but some have more pain than others. The pain is likely to progress, i.e., to more locations, higher frequency, and higher pain intensity over a two-year period.”

We see teenagers looking down at their mobile phones constantly, leading to terrible posture. We observe young children falling over and running into things all the time. It is unrealistic to conclude that children will just “grow out” of all of their problems, and the available evidence suggests that if anything, the problems are likely to get worse. For this reason, we support the decision of any parent to have their child checked and treated with chiropractic.

Pharmaceutical drugs carry risks that have rarely been investigated in children, and chiropractic is remarkably safe in comparison. In fact a literature review by AJ Todd3 in 2014 concluded that:

“Published cases of serious adverse events in infants and children receiving chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy, or manual medical therapy are rare. The 3 deaths that have been reported were associated with various manual therapists; however, no deaths associated with chiropractic care were found in the literature to date. Because underlying preexisting pathology was associated in a majority of reported cases, performing a thorough history and examination to exclude anatomical or neurologic anomalies before applying any manual therapy may further reduce adverse events across all manual therapy professions”.

Techniques applied to babies and children differ dramatically to those used with adults, as their smaller body size and earlier stage of development obviously necessitates. As the Todd study has recommended, any chiropractic treatment of a child or baby begins with a thorough examination and an explanation of what we expect to do if any relevant findings arise.

While this information largely relates to children presenting with musculo skeletal conditions, historically, people have sought help through chiropractic for a certain non musculo skeletal conditions also. A study4into unexplained crying behaviour made the following conclusion:

“In this study, chiropractic manual therapy improved crying behavior in infants with colic. The findings showed that knowledge of treatment by the parent did not appear to contribute to the observed treatment effects in this study. Thus, it is unlikely that observed treatment effect is due to bias on the part of the reporting parent”.

We acknowledge that scientific research hasn’t conclusively demonstrated that chiropractic care is effective in resolving all cases of these conditions. However, many parents have seen positive results in their children anecdotally. Given that there is so little risk of any adverse events in children (according to the 2014 review), it is a reasonable avenue to pursue. Rest assured that if your child is seriously ill, you will be directed to the appropriate medical care. We encourage you to speak to our chiropractor in as much detail as you feel is necessary to enable you to make the right choice for the health of your children.

1. Hestbaek L, Leboeuf-Yde C, Kyvik KO, Manniche C. The course of low back pain from adolescence to adulthood: eight-year follow-up of 9600 twins. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006 Feb 15;31(4):468-72.

2. Aartun E, Hartvigsen J, Wedderkopp N, Hestbaek L. Spinal pain in adolescents: prevalence, incidence, and course: a school-based two-year prospective cohort study in 1,300 Danes aged 11-13. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014 May 29;15:187. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-187.

2. Todd, Angela J. et al. Adverse Events Due to Chiropractic and Other Manual Therapies for Infants and Children: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 38 , Issue 9 , 699 – 712.

4. Miller JE, Newell D, Bolton JE. Efficacy of chiropractic manual therapy on infant colic: a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 Oct;35(8):600-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.09.010.

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