#trending: Are chiropractic treatments for babies safe? Surge in ‘chirobaby’ TikTok videos raises concern

A study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2001 found that chiropractic treatment was no more effective than a placebo when it came to treating infant colic. 

Babies in the placebo group were held by a nurse while the treatment group underwent chiropractic spinal manipulation. About 60 per cent of infants in both groups showed some degree of improvement, their parents said.

Physicians who spoke to The Washington Post said that the proliferation of infant chiropractic care on social media is worrying because the treatments could be risky. 

One worry is that a baby’s underdeveloped bones and joints make them more malleable under pressure and more prone to overstretching.

Dr Stephen George, an orthopaedic surgeon and director of spine surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Florida, told BuzzFeed News that understanding the cause behind the pain or misalignment is key. Otherwise chiropractors “may be doing patients harm if they blindly assume that a manipulation won’t hurt them”.

Dr Sean Tabaie, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC warned that “babies and children are not little adults”. 

“They’re an entirely different entity as far as their anatomy (is concerned), how they experience pain, and how their muscles and bones interact.”

He advised: “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.”

In November 2019, Mr Gan Kim Yong, then health minister of Singapore, gave a written answer in Parliament in reply to a question on how many complaints had been made against chiropractors, among other matters.

He said that over the preceding five years, the Ministry of Health had received an average of four feedbacks a year on chiropractic matters “usually related to the misleading use of titles, advertising or claims, and sales and refunds on treatment packages”.

“Chiropractic services are considered as complementary and alternative treatments, and not licensed under the Private Hospital and Medical Clinic Act. Chiropractors are encouraged to practise self-regulation through their professional associations.”

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