September 16, 2022 – Several chiropractors in the United States are posting TikTok videos of themselves working with newborns, babies and toddlers, often promoting treatments that are not backed by science, according to The Washington Post.
The videos include various devices and treatments, such as vibrating handheld massagers, spinal adjustments and body movements, intended to treat colic, constipation, reflux, musculoskeletal issues and even trauma that babies experience during childbirth.
Chiropractors say the treatments are safe and gentle for babies and different from the more intense movements associated with adult chiropractic care. However, some doctors said the videos were concerning because babies have softer bones and looser joints.
“At the end of the day, there’s no way to get improvement in a newborn from manipulation,” Sean Tabaie, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Children’s National Hospital, told the newspaper.
Tabaie said his colleagues were shocked when he sent them Instagram or TikTok videos of chiropractic clinics treating infants.
“The only thing you could possibly cause is harm,” he said.
Generally, chiropractors are licensed medical professionals who use stretches, pressures, and joint manipulations on the spine to treat patients. Although chiropractic care is generally considered “alternative therapy,” some data in adults suggests that chiropractic treatments may help certain conditions, such as low back pain.
“To my knowledge, there is little or no evidence that chiropractic care alters the natural history of any disease or condition,” Anthony Stans, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, told the newspaper. . Stans said he would caution parents and advise against chiropractic treatments for babies.
For some parents, TikTok treatments and videos sound appealing because they promise relief from issues that traditional medicine can’t always solve, especially colic, the newspaper reported. Colic, which is characterized by intense and prolonged crying in an otherwise healthy baby, tends to resolve over time without treatment.
Recent studies have attempted to investigate chiropractic care in infants. In a 2021 study, researchers in Denmark conducted a randomized controlled trial with 186 babies to test light pressure treatments. Although excessive crying was reduced by half an hour in the group that received the treatment, the results were ultimately not statistically significant.
In a new study published this week, researchers in Spain conducted a randomized trial with 58 babies to test “manual light touch therapy”. Babies who received treatment appeared to cry significantly less, but the parents were not “blinded” and aware of the study’s treatment conditions, which may bias the results.
However, it can be difficult to “get that level of evidence” to support manual therapies such as chiropractic care, Joy Weydert, MD, director of pediatric integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, told the journal. Certain treatments could help reduce the discomfort of colic or reflux, which can be difficult to measure in infants, she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said The post office that it has no “official policy” on chiropractic care for infants or toddlers. Meanwhile, a 2017 report by the organization concluded that there was a lack of “high-quality evidence” for spinal manipulation in children.
The American Chiropractic Association has stated that chiropractic treatments are safe and effective for children, but more research is needed to prove they work.
“We still haven’t been able to demonstrate in research the effectiveness that we’ve seen clinically,” Jennifer Brocker, chair of the group’s Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics, told the newspaper.
“We can’t really say for sure what’s going on,” she said. “It’s a bit like a black box. But what we do know is that, clinically, what we’re doing is working because we’re seeing a change in the child’s symptoms.