Author // Jeanne Ohm, DC
Just last week, I became aware of a news report circulating the AU papers: Call for Age Limit after Chiropractor Breaks Baby’s Neck. Now that’s a pattern interrupt, for sure. When I Googled the title, pages came up all echoing this outrageous accusation. Text in the articles reported, “A baby’s neck has been broken by a chiropractor in an incident doctors say shows the profession should stop treating children.”1
Anyone who has seen an infant chiropractic adjustment (be they a pediatric chiropractor or not) can attest that the amount of pressure used is minuscule compared to an adult and is appropriately adapted to the baby’s age, size, development. Many babies even sleep through their adjustments. Having adjusted babies since my graduation in 1981, and teaching pediatric chiropractic since 1998, I was floored by the absurdity of these accusations. So were numerous chiropractic, midwifery, breastfeeding and holistic colleagues around the world. Parents, too were up in arms.
The complaint was made to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) by Dr. Chris Pappas, a pediatrician at the Cabrini Medical Center, who reportedly treated the baby for torticollis. Prior to their visit to him, the parents had seen a chiropractor. The papers quoted him as saying, “Another few millimeters and there would have been a devastating spinal cord injury and the baby would have either died or had severe neurological impairment with quadriplegia,” WOW.
Pappas received a response from AHPRA earlier this month indicating that the case, which was referred on to the Chiropractic Board of Australia, had been closed after the chiropractor committed to completing further education. In other words, the chiropractor did not cause the injury. Even so, the press smear continued and the docotr stood by his claims and diagnosis that the chiropractor broke the baby’s neck.2
The Chiropractors Association of Australia (CAA) put out an initial press-release on September 29 saying: ” “The CAA is outraged that rather than clearing the Chiropractor’s name as appropriate, the newspaper reports have smeared the Chiropractor and the profession with such an allegation.”2
But that didn’t stop the AU news media from continuing to blast the false accusation all over the web. For several days, countless AU news headlines regurgitated the derogatory headline and chiropractors stood speechless at the slander.
Then, earlier this week, the truth was told as this one paper updated the public with the headline: “Chiropractor Cleared over Break.” 3 Amazingly, instead of numerous finds on Google as I had seen with the first derogatory headline, the retraction was only being published in one or two papers. WOW, again.
Finally, just yesterday, I received news that Parliament had cleared the chiropractor.4 The Chiropractic Association of Australia sent this update out:
“In plain terms the child suffered from a congenital condition which prevents the spine hardening in the normal way. The symptoms of this condition can be confused with what is known as hangman’s fracture, but the radiologist report right from the beginning of this matter made it clear there was no fracture. The child’s father had a similar condition. The Chiropractor did not and could not have broken the child’s neck because there never was a broken neck to begin with.” 5
This begs these questions… Who made the erroneous diagnosis of fracture to begin with? Who saw it necessary to report it to the press without carefully looking into this? How many reporters does it take to blindly viral a story without even one doing the proper research? What type of outright prejudices warrants this? Third WOW… Had anyone done just a bit of research on this, they would have realized how absurd the accusation was to begin with. It appears that someone with a specific agenda to discredit chiropractic for children initiated the accusation. and lit the brush fire.
In 2009, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), utilizing its Practiced Based Research Network (PBRN) did a large studying examining the safety of chiropractic care for children. From the conclusion: “The results of both our practitioner surveys and our parent surveys demonstrate a highly perceived effectiveness for pediatric chiropractic care as well as a high level of safety. ” 6 This paper in its entirety has been posted by the ICPA since 2009. It is Med-line searchable as well.
Additional results of the study showed a handful of “side effects” from the adjustments (all of them were slight discomfort or fussiness resolved in a day). What was so interesting about the study was the extremely low potential for any harm from the adjustments, and more profoundly the reported effects of improvements to the children overall well-being: 1- improved immune system function 2- better sleep 3- improved dispositions.
Yes, the real headline we need to viral is: Chiropractic for children is safe, gentle, effective.
Feeble, deceptive attempts to influence otherwise reveal the ignorance and outright prejudice of those that initiate them. In regards to these attempts to influence the public with fear mongering tactics instead of truth, I am reminded of this quote from Abraham Lincoln:
You can fool some of the people all of the time.
You can even fool all of the people some of the time.
But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
3- CAA initial statement: http://www.chiropractors.asn.au/images/stories/Files/Media%20Releases/CAA_media_release.pdf
5-Parliament’s Statement: p 3386 of http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2013/2013_10_16_DAILY.pdf
7- ICPA Study Full Text: http://www.icpa4kids.com/Safety.pdf
Dr. Jeanne Ohm has practiced family wellness care since 1981 with her husband, Dr. Tom. They have six children who were all born at home and are living the chiropractic family wellness lifestyle.
Dr. Ohm is an instructor, author, and innovator. Her passion is: training DC’s with specific techniques for care in pregnancy, birth & infancy, forming national alliances for chiropractors with like-minded perinatal practitioners, empowering mothers to make informed choices, and offering pertinent patient educational materials.