Taking Your Infant To The Chiropractor Isn’t Cute, It’s Dangerous

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baby chiropactorHaving a near constant stream of baby photos in my Facebook feed doesn’t usually bother me, but the other day I saw a picture of an infant on a chiropractor’s table, and it made me want to throw things.

There I was, innocently enjoying my coffee and scrolling through what my friends thought was brag-worthy enough to post on Facebook, when I saw a photo of a two-week-old baby girl at the chiropractor’s, posted by the chiropractor himself. Several people asked if the photo was a joke, which of course, angered the chiropractor. A volley of insulting comments ensued, I pouted because it was too early to make popcorn, and then I decided to do some internet sleuthing on the subject.

In general I am all for using alternative medicine in conjunction with traditional medicine.  I believe the two can co-exist when people are open and honest with their doctors and practitioners to insure that treatments will complement each other. I have personally used acupuncture to help me with stress and infertility issues. While it was great for my stress levels, it sadly didn’t impact my fertility. I’ve had Reiki performed on an ankle injury with great results and during a stint as a waitress in college, I utilized a chiropractor to help with neck and back strain from carrying heavy trays. But the difference is that I was an adult at the time, with a fully formed skeletal structure and the ability to communicate when and where I was feeling pain.

I’m not a doctor, but from watching the way my children could easily pull their feet to their mouths as infants, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that an infant’s spine is too flexible to be safely manipulated by a chiropractor. Again, I’ve never gone to med school, but I would say, bare minimum, if your child still has a soft spot on the top of their head, maybe it’s better not to let a chiropractor try and make crunching noises come from their wee little body.

Proponents of the practice say that it helps with all kinds of issues like colic, tonsillitis, sinusitis, allergies, curvature of the spine, sleep disorders, asthma, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, headaches and seizures. Those in favor of infant chiropractic adjustment also claim it helps fix trauma to the baby’s spine as a result of traveling through the birth canal.

Call me a skeptic, but I’m not buying it. Babies have been born for centuries just fine without needing a chiropractic adjustment before they’ve cut their first tooth. Perhaps taking an older child to the chiropractor could help with headaches, ADHD or other issues. I won’t discount those claims and I can’t say I wouldn’t try it for my children once they are older, but I would never advocate the use of a chiropractor on a child who is too young to participate and communicate during the manipulation and I would only do so after consulting with my pediatrician.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me. In a study published in 2007, they concluded that while they may be rare, there were serious risks associated with pediatric spinal manipulation. In writing about the practice of pediatric chiropractic care and current studies on the topic, Dr. Roy Benaroch said, ” They have essentially no evidence that any of their treatments work for any pediatric condition.”

I’m sure there are plenty of parents who will tell me to mind my own business and if I don’t like the idea of taking an infant to the chiropractor, then I shouldn’t and otherwise I should shut my mouth. But this isn’t an irrelevant parenting choice to me, like formula feeding versus breastfeeding or using a baby carrier versus a stroller. Taking a newborn to a chiropractor for manipulation without a pediatrician’s recommendation isn’t trendy or posh, like hiring a baby masseuse or professional artist as a babysitter, it’s dangerous.

(Image: Vitalinka/Shutterstock)