Chiropractors are adjusting an atypical population in the industry – infants. The practice has reeled in some moms on TikTok and left paediatricians concerned.
Several chiropractors post videos on TikTok about how infants benefit from adjustments, some of the babies as young as six days old. Some of the videos have millions of views and are igniting a debate among viewers.
“I would be scared because babies are so delicate,” one viewer said about Pro Health Chiropractic’s TikTok viral video of a baby being adjusted.
“Our paediatrician about fell out of his chair when I mentioned newborns and infants going to the chiro(practor),” another mom commented..
Paediatric chiropractors on TikTok vouch for the practice, saying adjustments can help common issues with newborns including constipation, colic, gastrointestinal issues and sleeping problems.
Chiropractor Lindsay Pelley explained to BuzzFeed News that baby adjustments differ drastically from adult adjustments, which may contribute to the anxiety around chiropractic services for children.
“If you’re going to a specialised paediatric chiropractor, there are minimal risks. It’s a very gentle, conservative way to improve the baby and most likely mom’s quality of life with minimal intervention,” Pelley told BuzzFeed News.
There is little science, however, to back up the effects of chiropractic services on infants, paediatricians told the Washington Post, and some parents may be seeking a solution to natural behaviours that a child eventually grows out of.
“Colic is a developmental phase in a normal kid,” Michael Milobsky told the Washington Post. “But it’s been sold as something that can be treated or solved, as opposed to being understood that this is just a developmental period that has a wide spectrum of presentations.”
Dr Sean Tabaie said he and his colleagues are alarmed at some of the videos circulating around TikTok, the Washington Post reported.
“Ultimately, there is no way you’re going to get an improvement in a newborn from a manipulation,” said Tabaie, an orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s National Hospital in DC. “The only thing that you might possibly cause is harm.”
“Infants never need an adjustment,” Tommy Martin, a verified doctor on TikTok with millions of followers, commented on Pro Health Chiropractic’s page.
The debate on whether babies should see a chiropractor or not dates back years, including in 2016 when a video of an Australian chiropractor cracking an infant’s back went viral, ABC Australia reported.
“There’s not many things that make an orthopaedic surgeon emotional, but when you see a premature baby having its back cracked, it literally makes my eyes water,” John Cunningham, a surgeon living in Melbourne, told ABC Australia in 2016.
Still, despite concern from paediatricians and other red flags, many mothers defend their choice to take babies to the chiropractors on TikTok.
“My daughter went to the chiropractor before she was one and it helped her with sitting and her posture immensely,” one mom commented.
“My daughter didn’t sleep more than two hours at a time and had chronic belly problems. One trip to the chiro(practor) and she slept for 12 hours straight,” another parent said on a viral TikTok of a man holding a baby by the legs upside down that garnered over two million views in 2021.
Tabaie would never recommend taking a child to the chiropractor, he told BuzzFeed News.
“Babies and children are not little adults. They’re an entirely different entity as far as their anatomy, how they experience pain, and how their muscles and bones interact,” Tabaie told BuzzFeed News
“If it really helps, then that’s fine, you should do what you think helps your child, but you should be aware of the consequences.” – Miami Herald/Tribune News Service