One of the most common questions I get from parents is not just whether chiropractic is safe for children, but how old do they need to be to become a patient. Based on personal experience, countless reports from other doctors of chiropractic (DCs), and clinical research my answer is:
- Yes! Chiropractic is extremely safe for children of ALL ages.
- Children can (and should) be cared for by a licensed chiropractor as soon after birth as possible!
I have had the honor of holding many infants in my hands and delicately performed very specific, gentle chiropractic adjustments only to see them thrive into some of the healthiest children and young adults that I know. I have found that kids needs chiropractors as much, if not more, than adults and here’s why…
The “First” Subluxation
As stated by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges, (1)
“Chiropractic is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation.
A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.
A subluxation is evaluated, diagnosed, and managed through the use of chiropractic procedures based on the best available rational and empirical evidence.”
In other words, when our spine is out of alignment, research has shown that it can have significantly negative effects on our nervous systems. This is because the nerves that pass through the bones in our vertebral column innervate virtually every organ and cell in our bodies!
Case in point: If the nerves that control your heart are impaired because your thoracic vertebrae are out of place, your heart will not function at 100%. Period.
Although we’ve known this for 100 years, the problem that we have today is that no one knows the epidemiology behind the subluxation. Namely:
- How many people in the world are subluxated?
- How far-reaching are the health effects of vertebral subluxation?
- What are the primary risk factors associated with subluxation?
One fact we do know, however, is that the first subluxation usually happens in the birth canal because of the normal trauma associated with vaginal deliveries. Even babies delivered by C-section are subject to birth trauma and vertebral subluxation. This is why it is absolutely critical for parents to bring their babies to their chiropractor as soon after birth as possible. This will ensure that their child’s nervous system is functioning at full capacity, which will provide the framework for a long life of health and vitality.
In the words of Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani:
“When the nervous system is not functioning well it has the potential to affect the communication channels of the body and may impact all aspects of health including neurological development, respiratory function and the baby’s capacity to sleep, breastfeed and digest milk.” (2)
Inevitably, kids fall and injure themselves and will need to get adjusted from time to time. This is why it’s important to get them checked regularly by your chiropractor, especially when they start to walk. You never know which spill or tumble will cause a subluxation!
Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health (Chiropractic)
By far, the most trusted and prolific scientific resource in all of peer-reviewed literature is the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health (Chiropractic). Most people don’t realize just how profound specific spinal correction is for infants and young children, and this journal is a constant reminder of the results that we see every day in chiropractic offices all across the world. This list is just a sample of the pediatric conditions that research shows are improved though chiropractic care: (3)
- Allergies, asthma, chronic colds and flus
- Amenorrhea (absence of monthly periods)
- Ataxia (involuntary muscle movements)
- Candidiasis and chronic ear infections
- Chronic sinusitis and decreased ability to smell
- Craniosynostosis (birth defect where the sutures on an infant’s head close prematurely)
- Developmental delay syndromes
- Dizziness, & visual disturbances
- GERD and acid reflux
- Headaches and migraines
- Hearing dysfunction
- Insomnia, quality of life, and various symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
- Joubert syndrome and hemifacial spasm (rare are brain malformation affecting normal movement and can lead to organ damage and seizures)
- Learning and speech disorders
- Lung dysfunction
- Motor and vocal tics
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neck and back pain
- Nocturnal Enuresis (bedwetting)
- Otitis Media (ear infections)
- Postural abnormalities
In addition to helping adolescents with these conditions, chiropractic has also been shown clinically to help pregnant women, which ultimately affects the health of the fetus. In fact, according to Sarah Clark, Childbirth Educator of Mama Birth, “Chiropractic is often the missing link when it comes to natural birth preparations.” (4)
Because it has been clinically shown to help pregnant women with: (3)
- Back pain
- Breech presentation
- Dystocia (obstructed labor)
- Emotional and mental stress
- Intrauterine constraint (external forces that prevent a smooth, normal vaginal birth – responsible for several skeletal malformations)
There is also a growing body of research describing how chiropractic care was instrumental in helping women struggling to conceive become pregnant!
Being the oldest and largest organization of its kind, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) was founded in 1986 by Dr. Larry Webster to offer doctors of chiropractic and other health care providers the tools that they need to care for pregnant mothers and children. For those DCs whose goal is to specialize in pediatrics, the ICPA offers a 360-hour diplomate program that goes into great detail highlighting that (“chiropractically speaking”) kids aren’t just miniature adults.
As bones develop, their skeletal system is quite different than adults, which requires an entire separate and distinct technique that must be utilized to effectively remove neurological interference from their bodies. Case in point, from a 2012 article published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine,
“A little girl who fell off the monkey bars was experiencing headaches, neck pain, and significant left leg and arm twitching. Medical testing was unsuccessful and she was put on multiple medications. Her daily life, and ability to attend school, was severely affected. After a few short weeks of chiropractic care, she no longer suffered from the symptoms and was able to resume school and daily living.”(5)
If this child’s chiropractor treated her like a little adult, she could have continued her life as a “medical failure,” most likely with no hope of ever living a life without drugs, pain and suffering. Thankfully, her DC knew better! The bottom line is that kids are in good hands when their chiropractor is skilled in pediatrics, and it’s always a fair question for any parent to ask what training someone has in this area.
If you haven’t taken your children to a chiropractor, please do! If you need a referral, leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help you find one.