Children and Chiropractic Care:
Birth to 18 Years
Conditions cared for and side effects
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
Chiropractic has been successfully caring for children for various conditions for over a century. The main issues are what conditions are cared for by chiropractors, what is the reported success rate and what is the incidence of side effects. Over time, research has started to catch up on what individual chiropractors have been realizing in their private practices and this article will outline the current state of the literature.
Marchand (2012) reported that an extensive European study was performed revealing that 8.1% of chiropractic practices were children between the ages of 0-18 (this is lower than the 17.1% of pediatric case loads of American Chiropractors.) This was based upon 921 doctors of chiropractic participating and reporting 19,821 pediatric visits, thereby certifying a valid cross-section of patients to conclude results.
The pediatric related conditions that were reported to be cared for by chiropractors were the following:
- Joint pain
- Neck pain
- Mid back pain
- Low back pain
- Cerebral Palsy
- Movement Disorders
- Hiatus hernia
- Bowel problems
- Menstrual cramps
- Bed wetting
- Food intolerance
- Skin rashes
- Ear infections
- Ear-nose-throat problems
- Common cold
Miller and Benfield (2008) conducted a study of children younger than 3 years old to determine the adverse effects of chiropractic care in that age group, arguably the most susceptible to injury based upon the fragility of that age group. The study was based upon 5,242 chiropractic adjustments and if the results were extrapolated to the wider infant/toddler population that receives chiropractic treatment, the adverse reaction rate is expected to be 1 out of every 1300 chiropractic adjustments. There was less than 1% of patients experiencing negative side effects and all of these adverse reactions to care were mild in nature; transient and required no medical care with serious complications. The typical reaction was transient crying.
The “Practical Application” reported by Miller and Benfield was that chiropractic adjustments were safe for young children and adolescents.
Marchand (2012) also reported the negative side effects of chiropractic care in children to be less then 1% (0.23%,) which is consistent with what Miller and Benfield reported 4 years prior in an independent study. However, Marchand went further to categorize the negative side effects into mild, moderate and severe. In a 1 year study of 237,857 pediatric patients, there was a reported 534 mild side effects (0.2%) and 23 (0.009%) had moderate side effects with 0 (zero) reporting any severe side effects.
To render perspective on the safety of chiropractic care and children Le, Nguyen, Law and Hodding (2006) reported "The incidence of adverse drug reactions among hospitalized children in the United States has not been well studied. Because clinical trials involving neonates, infants, children, and adolescents are limited, the safety and tolerability of many pharmacologic agents are not well established. Often the pharmacologic actions of drugs in neonates, infants, and children are not similar to those identified for adults; therefore, information obtained from research with adults cannot be applied directly. On the basis of a meta-analysis of 17 prospective studies conducted in the United States and Europe, the incidence of adverse drug reactions among hospitalized children was 9.5%, with severe reactions accounting for 12% of the total (pg. 557.)
The above study indicates that side effects need more researched in many sects of health care, but comparatively speaking, chiropractic is a much safer choice than most alternative options.
Over time, research will continue to render more outcome statistics on the efficacy of chiropractic care. However based upon the current statistical conclusions, chiropractic is being utilized to help an array of maladies worldwide in the pediatric population with minimal to no side effects.
- Marchand, Aurelie (2012) Chiropractic Care of Children From Birth to Adolescence and Classification of reported Conditions: An Internet Cross-Sectional Survey of 956 European Chiropractors, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 35 (5) 372-380
- Miller, J. E., & Benfield, K. (2008). Adverse effects of spinal manipulative therapy in children younger than 3 years: A retrospective study in a chiropractic teaching clinic. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31(6), 419-423.
- Studin M. (2010, September). Chiropractic and Children; A Study in Adverse Effects, US Chiropractic Directory. Retrieved from http://uschirodirectory.com/index.php?option=com_flexicontent&view=items&id=261
- Le, J., Nguyen, T., Law, A., Hodding, J. (2006) Adverse Drug reactions Among Children Over a 10-Year Period, Pediatrics, 118 (2) 555-562