Chiropractic care for infants is on the rise as more and more parents seek alternatives to conventional medicine. After doctors and dentists, chiropractors are the largest group of professional caregivers. Treatment is no longer solely reserved for the trauma of childbirth. Fans of a gentler, more natural approach swear by its benefits for earaches, colic, constipation and even asthma.
Below are six important facts that parents of little ones should bear in mind when considering this approach.
Chiropractors Have Been Around for Ages
Spinal manipulation has been in use since ancient times in Greece, Egypt and throughout Asia. Today’s methods adhere to the same central belief: Misaligned vertebrae or partially dislocated joints may compromise overall health.
Just like their forerunners, modern chiropractors do adjustments in order to improve nerve function, immune response and organ performance. Simply being born can knock vertebral joints out of place, adversely affecting nerves and muscle tissue. The aim of early adjustment is to prevent childhood diseases associated with those body systems.
The Jury Is Still Out
Unfortunately, scientific research hasn’t caught up with the ancients. The results of a handful of formal studies were inconclusive. One Danish study of babies treated for colic showed a 94 percent improvement within two weeks; another that tested infants in a blind trial didn’t find chiropractic treatment any more effective than a placebo.
This disparity offers little assurance for parents, but almost all the experts agree on one thing – the benefits of spinal manipulation may not be proven, but treatment in the hands of a qualified caregiver is overwhelmingly safe. In other words, given the right chiropractor, it can’t hurt. Moms and dads may also take comfort in knowing that chiropractic colleges require 90 hours of pediatric study.
As carefully as you did your homework before choosing a pediatrician, research the chiropractors you’re considering. Check their credentials. Obviously, candidates should hold degrees in the field and be members in good standing of the American Chiropractic Association. A man or woman with advanced degrees who actively continues training is ideal. Look for someone who attends seminars and participates in medical conferences. Find out how long he’s been in practice and how many babies he regularly treats.
Schedule a consultation. The chiropractor should strike you as a thoughtful listener who wants detailed information about your child. Your family health history should also be discussed. If the doctor seems more interested in mystical concepts than the human body, thank him for his time and keep looking.
Alpha Spine and Wellness said, “It’s imperative that a careful physical examination be done before any kind of manipulation takes place.”
Infant Adjustments Are Nothing Like Adult Adjustments
If you’ve nicknamed your own chiropractor “Dr. Crunch,” you’re in for a surprise. Adjusting infants is far less forceful than adjusting adults. The scary sound effects you’ve come to expect, the creaks and cracks and pops, will be noticeably absent.
On infants, chiropractors use light motions to gingerly massage subluxations back into place. Rather than jerking limbs around to align the spine, they may gently dangle babies by their feet. Babies rarely complain.
Chiropractic Care Is Most Effective in Conjunction With Mainstream Medicine
Ideally, your pediatrician and chiropractor should work together. There is great value in letting the body fight off a fever on its own, but there’s also a time for antibiotics. Your child’s caregivers should be aware of one another, and the left hand should always know what the right is doing. Their treatment methods should complement one another. Inform the chiropractor of any medicines the baby is taking. Tell the pediatrician about herbal or homeopathic remedies being tried.
Traditional doctors and chiropractors are working to bring their two communities together, but be prepared for some disagreement.
No Treatment Is Without Risk
Detractors have legitimate concerns about spinal manipulation for babies. Infant brains are incredibly fragile, and one overly aggressive movement could cause bleeding or trauma. An inexperienced or careless chiropractor could leave a baby with significant neurological damage. Such injuries are extremely rare, but again, the importance of choosing a qualified caregiver can’t be overstated.
Another worry is that chiropractic treatment will supplant conventional pediatric care, which addresses every aspect of children’s health and well-being.
Good chiropractic care is generally considered safe, but until better studies are conducted, parents will have to judge its benefits for themselves.