Children and Chiropractic:
A Study in Adverse Effects
Chiropractic adjustments were found safe for young children and adolescents
A report on the scientific literature
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
For over 100 years, parents have been taking their children for chiropractic care for various reasons. Clinically, chiropractic has been effectively treating numerous childhood ailments, from asthma to scoliosis to attention deficit disorder to sports-related injuries as well as other symptoms, conditions and diagnoses. This article is not about the efficacy of chiropractic caring for those types of disorders. It is limited to a single topic the safety of the chiropractic adjustment for children.
Having cared for children for 30 years in clinical practice for various diagnoses and wellness care, the safety of the adjustment has been the most asked about by parents. When asked if it was safe, my answer has always been based on my personal clinical experience, which resulted in me answering, "Yes." As with medicine and any other healing discipline, the results have to be verified with science over time to prove that assertion to be true.
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.
In clinical practice, having successfully cared for children with scoliosis, attention deficit disorders, hearing loss, bedwetting, ear infections, eczema, headaches, cerebral palsy, whiplash, low back pain, neck pain and many other conditions, I cannot recall one instance of a child having an adverse reaction. It is also of importance to note that approximately 100% of the patients had visited their pediatrician or other medical subspecialists prior to seeking chiropractic care as their "last alternative" to get help. These weren’t patients who needed convincing on a philosophy or religious beliefs. They were desperate for help. This is not an indictment against medicine and pediatrics. It is an endorsement for having the right care available when the correct diagnosis is rendered. Often chiropractic should be the first choice and not the last, after expensive and sometimes dangerous testing and treatment is performed.
These studies along with many others conclude that a drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions for parents seeking safe care for their children. To find a qualified doctor of chiropractic near you go to the US Chiropractic Directory at www.USChiroDirectory.com and search your state.
1. 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.