Advancing The Cause: Chiropractic Care And Kids

It’s been ten years since the first edition of Well Adjusted Babies (by Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani*) hit the shelves. This decade has seen a paradigm shift in the way parents consume information, and choose to nurture the little lives they have been entrusted with.

“It’s an exciting time for chiropractic.” says Jennifer, who is enthusiastic about the increasing amount and research around chiropractic and holistic wellness. “What we offer is so unique in its ability to work holistically, to strengthen and rebalance health.

The previous generation may have grown up consuming food additives, gluten, and dairy without so much as a question, and accepting prescriptions of antibiotics without scrutiny, but they aren’t raising their kids that way. They seem to be more informed of the options when it comes to nurturing health, more mindful of what they are putting in their child’s body nutritionally and medicinally, and placing more confidence in holistic wellness. It’s a new paradigm in parenting, one that puts chiropractic in an advantageous position.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the grey cloud of scrutiny is finally lifting off the area of paediatric chiropractic care.

Just a few years ago, this wasn’t the case though. In a recent interview, Dr. Joel Alcantara*, head of research  at the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association (ICPA), conceded that the last twelve or so years had been largely focused on the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic wellness care in paediatrics and pregnancy [1]. By his admission, this was a defensive stance as a result of attack on the area.

What we now know through research is that adverse effects of chiropractic on children are extremely low, even when compared with traditional medicine. Alcantara himself presided over a study on ‘The Safety and Effectiveness of Paediatric Chiropractic’ which revealed only three adverse effects from 5,438 visits in the treatment of 577 children. These treatments varied across muscuoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions. “Treatment-associated complications were not indicated by the chiropractic and parent responders [2].”

Other literature reviews are indicating similarly low numbers of adverse events [3].

The naysayers may have had a field day when news broke of a child whose neck was supposedly fractured by a chiropractor, but the story was later proven to be nothing but utter fiction. Perhaps this fallacy proved motivating in terms of driving research. Fast forward a number of years and the positive evidence for chiropractic care in pregnancy and childhood is mounting. There’s a wealth of knowledge yet to be discovered, but we are off to a good start.

No statement overarches the emerging evidence so well as this one, appearing in Dr. Barham-Floreani’s popular blog article 10 Reasons Parents Take Healthy Children to Chiropractors [4]:

“Your child’s health is their greatest asset and yes while more research into the benefits of chiropractic for babies and children is needed, chiropractic for little people has been shown to be gentle, safe and effective.”

It was a popular blog post, perhaps signifying the increased interest in holistic wellness solutions. Jennifer Barham-Floreani, a passionate advocate of paediatric chiropractic care and now a popular presenter, says this:

“There is a greater demand for resources. Kids are sicker than they ever have been before, with asthma, allergies, behavioural issues (etc).  There seems to be compounding stress. Parents want to explore what options they have – What’s the best thing for their child in terms of protecting and restoring their health.”

According to Jennifer, today’s parents are intelligent consumers of information, more confident in the benefits of holistic wellness, and more likely to question the dangers of drugs and surgery.

Throw social media into the mix, where conversations around issues such as diets (clean eating, paleo, organics), antibiotics and other health decisions are frequently debated, and we find ourselves looking at a parent who is intent on being well informed and proactive.

This is a marked change from the rampant scepticism chiropractic has had to deal with in the past, but it does present us with a fresh challenge: communicating in a clear, succinct and defensible manner the benefit of what we know works.

So what is the crux of the chiropractic-and-kids cause?

“There’s an intricate balance between the immune system, the digestive system and the nervous system. They are incredibly intertwined. We want to make sure the master controller (the nervous system) is working well,” says Barham-Floreani.

“In infancy, subluxations can occur as a result of birth complications: medicalized births, forceps or caesarean delivery for example. When we treat these subluxations, we can impact neural plasticity, digestion, sleep, capacity to learn and thrive.”

“It’s an exciting time because we are learning more and more about how the body is so interconnected.”

Best of all, there’s really no time too early to start care. It starts with supporting healthy pregnancy. As we now know, antibiotics in pregnancy, along with other drugs such as anti-inflammatories, can create a dysbiosis or a microbial imbalance among other issues. Healthy pregnancies create the best foundation upon which healthy childhoods can be built. This is something that chiropractic can have a very real role in supporting.

The fact is that babies can be adjusted in safe, gentle and effective ways in order to address subluxations. These ideas are very much backed up by the ICPA’s findings that claim key areas of benefit to include [5]:

  • Breathing problems
  • Nursing difficulties
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Chronic infections

“Bottom line: It is beneficial (for a parent to take their child to a chiropractor)” says Dr. Joel Alcantara. It really is as simple as that.

The problem of illness, gut issues, allergies, asthma and other diseases in childhood doesn’t seem to be going away. They actually seem to be increasing. To Jennifer, the chiropractor’s role in this is clear. “Chiropractic is not a band-aid cure for any health challenge. Our focus is not treating or curing ailments; our focus is ensuring the nervous system has every opportunity to communicate clearly and work effectively. This enables our body to then recreate “order” and co-ordinate healing and better function [4].”

Combining chiropractic with a healthy lifestyle, an area in which knowledge is growing almost daily, can be a truly powerful thing. This is where chiropractors can have such impact: in supporting and empowering healthy lifestyles, while adjusting subluxations in order to offer the best possible start to life.

Building that ideal foundation for normal development, healing, function, and nerve communication could not be more important. It is essential at any point in the timeline of life, but especially when the body is developing throughout childhood.

Chiropractic has been shown to be safe, effective and gentle in childhood and infancy. Now let’s embrace a future in which we create more and more knowledge around exactly how beneficial it can be.

 

*The title Doctor throughout this article refers to chiropractor (under Australian regulation) or Doctor of Chiropractic

 

References

  1. Castlereagh, F (2013), “Dr. Joel Alcantara Interview” http://youtu.be/i32SHI4HWJg retrieved 20 April 2015
  2. Alcantara, J, 2009, “The Safety and Effectiveness of Paediatric Chiropractic: a Survey of Chiropractors and Parents in a Practice Based Research Network.
  3. Todd, A, Carroll, M, Robinson, A and Mitchell, E (2014), “Adverse Events Due to Chiropractic and Other Manual Therapies for Infants and Children: A Review of the Literature,” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2014 Oct 30. pii: S0161-4754(14)00178-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2014.09.008. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Barham-Floriani, J (2014), “10 Reasons Parents Take Their Healthy Children To Chiropractors,” Well Adjusted TM, http://www.welladjusted.com/why-parents-take-children-to-chiropractors/ retrieved 6 May 2015
  5. Ohm, J (2005), “Why Should Children Have Chiropractic Care?” http://icpa4kids.org/Wellness-Articles/why-should-children-have-chiropractic-care.html retrieved 20 April 2015

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