The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics carried a paper titled “Maternal Report of Outcomes of Chiropractic Care for Infants,” in its most recent edition. The study took in a sample of more than 2000 mothers, and is the first known large survey of “baseline and follow-up characteristics of infant patients presented to chiropractic practices”. While the data collection methods leave a lot to be desired in terms of investigating efficacy, the sheer number of participants make the results a striking addition to the chiropractic evidence base. Best of all, the findings are clear and positive for chiropractic care.
Emerging from the UK, the study aimed to investigate “the report by mothers of their infants’ condition before and after a trial of care by registered chiropractic clinicians” as well as reporting the demographic profile of the infants presenting for care. It was an observational study, so a natural level of subjectivity must be accounted for, but all in all the results spoke loudly in favour of chiropractic care for infants.
The study involved maternal reporting of her infants profile at the first presentation, and then after the trial of chiropractic care completed. Of the 2001 mothers given the original survey, 1092 submitted completed follow-up forms. Improvements were noted across a broad range of complaints including :
The researchers also noted that “maternal ratings of depression, anxiety and satisfaction with motherhood also demonstrated statistically significant improvement. ” They also noted that “Although the observational design makes it impossible to determine efficacy, the study’s findings indicate that, on average, the changes observed by mothers were positive and may be clinically relevant.”
Interestingly, the questionnaire used to ascertain all of this was the UK Infant Questionnaire that was developed to satisfy the demand for a parent-reported outcome measure . The researchers also pointed to previous studies that suggested mothers were reliable reporters of their infants behaviour “and therefore in the best position to provide insight into their child’s clinical situation.”
The sample was made up of 55% male infants and 45% female infants, 64% of which had required interventions at birth. 58% were referred by a health care provider. The rest were referred by friends, family or other sources. The most common age at presentation was just 3 weeks old, with 79.1% of study participants presenting at less than 12 weeks old.
The paper stayed well away from commenting on or address upheaval that has cast a shadow over infant chiropractic care in recent times (especially in Australia). Happily, it did find that the mothers who completed the follow-up form all felt that chiropractic care for their infants was effective, safe and cost-effective.
We look forward to further research on efficacy of chiropractic care for infants and children.