Children/Pediatric Utilization of Chiropractic Care
A report on the scientific literature
Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
83% of children under 3 years old were referred by their medical practitioners
Children have been under chiropractic care for almost 100 years according to my 30 years of rendering chiropractic care to children and the 2 generations of my instructors and mentors that taught me how to care for children. While there is a growing body of evidence of the efficacy of chiropractic care and childhood maladies, the amount of children under care and being referred to chiropractors by pediatricians and other medical doctors is growing.
In December, 2008, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, released findings on Americans and the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). "The findings are from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual in-person survey of Americans regarding their health- and illness-related experiences. The CAM section gathered information on 23,393 adults aged 18 years or older and 9,417 children aged 17 years and under" (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/ 2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm). They found that 11.8% of children in the United States have undergone CAM therapies, indicating that children aren’t obtaining the desired outcomes and their parents are looking for solutions.
CAM is a term applied to any healing discipline that does not fall into the category of traditional medicine or any health care that traditional medicine must govern over, such as nursing or physical therapy, rendering those as secondary health care providers and not allowing them to care for patients unless under the supervision of a medical doctor. Chiropractic is considered part of CAM simply because doctors of chiropractic are not medical doctors or secondary providers requiring supervision by a medical doctor.
Miller reported in 2010 on 2,645 children that were treated in the outpatient clinic of the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic from 2006-2010 for various maladies. Of these children, 87% were under the age of 5 and 13% were between 5 and 13. 34% were seen for musculoskeletal problems such as neck pain and postural issues, 30% were treated for infant colic/excessive crying, 16% for feeding disorders and the balance for various other issues. Every child had been seen by at least one medical practitioner and some by many medical providers. Of the 2,645 children referred to the chiroprctic clinic, 83% were referred by thier medical physicians.
According to Jandial, Myers, Wise, and Foster in 2009, 21% of all medical practitioners, including pediatricians, had no confidence in treating musculoskeletal issues and only 53% had "some" confidence in treating musculoskeletal issues in children. Considering the "self-rated" format of this study, there are no interpretation issues of the results. Miller (2010) also reported in the study that 83% of the children under 3 years of age were referred by medical practitioners, underscoring the need for this type of care and the efficacy of the care for children. In a limited study, Alcantara and Davis (2010) reported improvement with chiropractic treatment in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as various other limited and case studies. While significantly more research is required for children and chiropractic care, the growing body of recognition by the medical and chiropractic communities and the public gives evidence to the results of chiropractic care in the pediatric population.
1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2008, December). The use of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm
2. Miller, J. (2010). Demographic survey of pediatric patients presenting to a chiropractic teaching clinic, Chiropractic & Osteopathy,18(33), Retrieved from http://www.chiroandosteo.com/content/pdf/1746-1340-18-33.pdf
3. Jandial, S., Myers, A., Wise, E., & Foster, H. E. (2009). Doctors likely to encounter children with musculoskeletal complaints have low confidence in their clinical skills. Journal of Pediatrics, 154(2), 267-271.
4. Alcantara, J., & Davis, J. (2010). The chiropractic care of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A retrospective case series. Explore, 6(3), 173-182.