A study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2001 found that chiropractic treatment was no more effective than a placebo when it came to treating infant colic.
Babies in the placebo group were held by a nurse while the treatment group underwent chiropractic manipulation of the spine. About 60% of infants in both groups showed some degree of improvement according to their parents.
Doctors The Washington Post spoke to said the proliferation of infant chiropractic care on social media is concerning because the treatments could be risky.
They said one concern is that a baby’s underdeveloped bones and joints make them more malleable under pressure and more prone to overstretching.
Dr. Stephen George, orthopedic surgeon and director of spine surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Florida, told BuzzFeed News that understanding the cause of pain or misalignment is critical. Otherwise, chiropractors “could harm patients if they blindly assume that manipulation will not harm them.”
Dr. Sean Tabaie, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, warned that “babies and children are not small adults.”
“They’re an entirely different entity in terms of their anatomy, the way they feel pain, and the way their muscles and bones interact.”
He advised: “If it really helps then that’s fine, you should do what you think will help your child, but you have to be aware of the consequences.”
In November 2019, then-Health Minister Gan Kim Yong gave a written response to parliament in response to a question about the number of complaints filed against chiropractors, among others.
He said that over the previous five years, the Department of Health had received an average of four reports a year on chiropractic issues “generally related to the misleading use of titles, advertisements or claims, as well as sales and refunds on treatment packages”.
“Chiropractic services are considered complementary and alternative treatments and are not permitted under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act. Chiropractors are encouraged to practice self-regulation through their professional associations”.