Chiropractic is a government registered and regulated healthcare profession. Regulated by the same board that regulates medical doctors (AHPRA).
Of the 300,000 visits to chiropractors each week in Australia, approximately 30,000 of them are children.
Safer Care Victoria Review
In 2019 the Victorian Health Minister ordered an independent review of the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care for children under the age of 12.
The following members were on the Safer Care Victoria review panel:
Pediatrician, Pediatric neurosurgeon, Pediatric orthopedic surgeon, pediatric physiotherapist, pediatric chiropractor, among others.
This is the largest independent review on the safety of chiropractic for children in world history to date (1 Dec 2019).
Information was gathered from the following sources to be reviewed by the panel on:
- Cochrane Australia performed an exhaustive systematic review of the scientific literature (highest level of evidence).
- Questionnaire to the Australian public of their experience and opinion
- Questionnaire to health professionals of their experience and opinion
- Data from the chiropractic regulating body (AHPRA) of any complaints from the public
- Data from insurance companies of any claims made against chiropractors
Here are the Highlights of the Information Gathered:
In Australia, there has never been a serious adverse event reported in the literature or in insurance claims, involving the care of a child by a chiropractor.
This is despite the fact that there have been an estimated 12-15 million visits by children to chiropractors in the last 20 years.
The evidence of harm is low because chiropractors modify their techniques to suit the age and developmental stage of the patient across the lifespan.
In fact there are only three cases published in the world where harm was incurred from spinal manipulation to children; but none of them were performed by chiropractors, and none of them used techniques utilized by chiropractors.
Of note: A small number of children may have mild discomfort for 1-2days after a visit, and normally only after the first few visits. This could be displayed in an infant as increased unsettledness for 1-2 days. This is no different than an adult who is mildly sore after their first few adjustments due to how much tension they are coming in with.
73% of respondents reported having their child had chiropractic care under the age of 2.
50% of respondents reported their child being cared for from infancy through to teenage years.
Note: Regarding the 0.3% of parents who had a negative experience; it was relating to the cost of the visit, not the care received.
Main Reasons for Seeking Chiropractic Care Were:
- Neck pain
- Breastfeeding difficulties
- Back pain
- wellbeing/preventative care
- Sleep issues
- Behavioral issues
- Bed wetting and constipation
- Improve child’s development
It is important to remember that chiropractic care is not a cure for the above listed conditions. The sole purpose of chiropractic care is to assess for and remove spinal tension. The result of this is a body with less stress on it’s nervous system. Then the body can function as it was intended to, and some have improvements in conditions listed above as a secondary result.
Evidence of Effectiveness:
Scientific research in pediatric chiropractic is limited compared to that of adults. This is an area that the Australian Chiropractic Association is working hard at improving.
A lack of evidence is not evidence of absence. The fact that there were over 20, 000 respondents from the public with 98% of them indicating improvement in their child is the lowest quality evidence in the scientific world, but it still provides confidence of benefit.
What Parents Said:
Below are Excerpts from the Safer Care Victoria Report on Some Parents’ Experiences With Chiropractic: (zoom in and have a read!)
ACA COAG Chiropractic Review Patient Infographic. November, 2019.