Is Infant Chiropractic Care Safe?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Chiropractic care can help treat colic.
Chiropractic care can help treat colic.

Questions as to whether infant chiropractic care is safe linger. Most infants who receive chiropractic care show no ill effects, but injury is a possibility. In general, infants' spines are gently touched, without the popping or cracking used on adults to achieve spinal alignment. Many chiropractors insist on not only the safety of infant chiropractic care but also its efficacy, and assert that spinal alignment may help a baby grow more healthfully and cure problems like predilection toward middle ear infections and colic.

Chiropractors who typically focus on adult adjustments may not have the training or experience necessary to treat an infant safely.
Chiropractors who typically focus on adult adjustments may not have the training or experience necessary to treat an infant safely.

The safety issue of infant chiropractic care may be more problematic when chiropractors step outside their field of practice to treat infants. An ear infection, particularly of a bacterial nature, would be much better treated by a medical doctor, especially because infants are particularly vulnerable to bacterial infection. Spinal alignment to treat illnesses that have nothing to do with spinal alignment (at least as argued by many general practitioners) is perhaps irresponsible, and may neglect needed treatment from medical professionals better suited to addressing certain issues.

A bacterial ear infection in a baby may be better treated by a medical doctor than a chiropractor.
A bacterial ear infection in a baby may be better treated by a medical doctor than a chiropractor.

There is also some question regarding the degree to which all chiropractors are suited to treat infants. Some studies conducted from the 1970s-1990s show multiple chiropractors giving completely different diagnoses for the same child. One memorable study in 1994 conducted by the news program 20/20 followed, with hidden camera, a baby’s visit to nine chiropractors in New York City, and each came up with diagnoses that were significantly different from one another. While a single anecdote cannot prove safety or danger of infant chiropractic care, the report does suggest that despite licensing, not all chiropractic care may be equal.

Reviews from other people may help someone choose the best chiropractor for a child.
Reviews from other people may help someone choose the best chiropractor for a child.

You must take the same precaution with MDs too. Some medical doctors are woefully incompetent as opposed to their peers. Getting reviews from other people, assuring that a doctor is licensed, and checking out licensing to make sure it is current is a good way to start on the path of selection a pediatrician for your baby.

No less care should be taken if you feel your child would benefit from infant chiropractic care. You should work carefully with your child’s pediatrician or your obstetrician to select a reputable, competent chiropractor who will not ignore potential causes for illnesses that would be best addressed by your child’s pediatrician. You should also pay attention to whether chiropractic care is indeed helpful to your child. While chiropractors contend that all infants should have chiropractic care, there are many medical doctors who find such treatment unnecessary.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

flowerchild

@donna61--When I was looking for a chiropractor to work with my children I contacted several sources. There are several national and international associations that certify chiropractors to work with infants. You can search online to find a list of them.

A lot of chiropractors work with infants without the certification, but I like the idea of them having some additional training in this area. I don't think it's mandatory, just a good idea in my opinion. It really helped to put my mind at ease.

donna61

My cousin has a new baby and she is thinking about taking her to a chiropractor to see if it will help her sleep through the night. Does a chiropractor need special training or certification to work on infants? I would think that would be necessary. Any recommendations on how to check this would be great, thanks!

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    • Chiropractic care can help treat colic.
      Chiropractic care can help treat colic.
    • Chiropractors who typically focus on adult adjustments may not have the training or experience necessary to treat an infant safely.
      Chiropractors who typically focus on adult adjustments may not have the training or experience necessary to treat an infant safely.
    • A bacterial ear infection in a baby may be better treated by a medical doctor than a chiropractor.
      A bacterial ear infection in a baby may be better treated by a medical doctor than a chiropractor.
    • Reviews from other people may help someone choose the best chiropractor for a child.
      Reviews from other people may help someone choose the best chiropractor for a child.
    • It is important to talk to a pediatrician who you trust before scheduling chiropractic care for your child.
      It is important to talk to a pediatrician who you trust before scheduling chiropractic care for your child.