In April 2008 best selling UK author Dr Simon Singh wrote an opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper regarding chiropractic treatments that contained the following paragraph:
“The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.”
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) promptly threatened to sue Dr Singh personally, claiming he had defamed their reputation. Despite the Guardian Newspaper offering an opportunity for the BCA to author a 500 word response to be published in The Guardian, allowing the BCA to present its evidence in conjunction with a clarification in the “Corrections and Clarifications” column, these offers were rejected by the BCA and legal action commenced. The resulting 2 year ordeal ended abruptly when the BCA served a Notice of Discontinuance on April 15, 2010 bringing an end to any claim of libel.
Perhaps it’s nothing more than coincidence that the very next month the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), a UK-wide statutory body with regulatory powers, published a position statement related to subluxation (the ironic backbone of many contentious chiropractic claims) which read:
“The chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex is an historical concept but it remains a theoretical model. It is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it is the cause of disease or health concerns.”
In October this year New Zealand medical researchers Professor Shaun Holt and Andrew Gilbey issued a strong warning against taking children to chiropractors for any reason.
In regards to spinal manipulation in infants and children, for conditions ranging from ear infections, colic and asthma to ADHD and even cancer, Professor Holt was quoted as saying
“There is no plausible explanation why high-velocity manipulation of the spine can help children with these medical conditions, it is an extraordinary claim”
“Given that this is a multibillion dollar industry, the lack of good research that has been undertaken is staggering. There is also evidence that many chiropractors advise against routine childhood immunizations, which is irresponsible.”
Andrew Gilbey also relayed concerns that
“there are some serious safety concerns related to the unnecessary use of x-rays and the manipulation of childrens’ spines and so we advise parents to instead consult their family doctor who has been trained to recognize and treat a wide range of medical problems. In Canada, an undercover researcher reported that 4 out of 5 chiropractors found serious problems with the spine of a child and said that these required urgent chiropractic treatment, whereas an experienced paediatric orthopedic surgeon who also examined the girl found her to be perfectly healthy.”
Most likely my awareness of these and many other causes for concern regarding Chiropractic had kept me from any contact with it.
Until yesterday afternoon that is.
Picking my daughter up from childcare I couldn’t help but notice glossy leaflets in each family pigeon hole. Usually this is where receipts of payment, birthday invitations and Centre announcements are left for parents. What caught my eye this time however was a beautifully prepared 4 page newsletter style pamphlet entitled
“NEWS 4 LIFE”
produced by Body Brilliant Chiropractic. I then read:
The manager of the Centre happened to be nearby. She explained the unprecedented appearance of such material resulted from a favor to a former child fitness program employee who had just started at Body Brilliant Chiropractic. The staff had allowed this person to promote her new employers claims based on trust alone and had yet to look over the claims made in the document, a surprisingly easy mistake to make and one I don’t in any way begrudge them for (particularly as I’ve been assured it won’t happen again).
As soon as I voiced my concerns regarding the claims made, staff were instructed to remove the leaflets pending investigation.
We then went through the document together and noted that claims were also made that “Vertebral Subluxations” are at minimum correlated with Asthma, Wheezing and a host of other illnesses not related to the back, let alone spine.None of the numerous facts and figures put forward were referenced in any way, and there appeared to both of us to be a general tone of mistrust aimed at the medical establishment. I said I’d follow up the claims with a little research and bring in what I found the next day and thanked the management team for acting so promptly to remove the offending material.
I’ve since provided to the management and staff a fairly comprehensive summary of articles and peer-reviewed studies outlining controversy within the chiropractic community over the reality of “Subluxations” (described in the leaflet as the source of a range of illnesses at least 5 times) the ineffectiveness of pediatric chiropractic “treatments”, and the potential risks involved in undertaking such treatments. I have also filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission(ACCC) via their tremendously useful SCAMWatch site, The Queensland Office of Fair Trading as well as the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA). The Management of the Childcare Centre have assured me they will be much more vigilant in future and also advised me that they contacted the woman who had delivered the leaflets and that she was not aware of any concerns but would look into it further.
I can’t help but dwell on the fact that if those leaflets had been delivered any day of the week apart from Thursday and Friday they would have escaped my notice, and that is more than enough to compel me to act. It’s also possible that the other parents at the Centre would not have the background knowledge on the topic to be concerned about the claims made, or to have been concerned enough to alert staff to the potential for harm to our children. I was considering this and wondering how many other Child Care Centres in our region also were either purposefully or unwittingly promoting such treatments when my partner passed me the Dec/Jan issue of ‘Kids on the Coast’ magazine, a free bi-monthly publication that circulates in many if not all childcare facilities across the Gold Coast.
The inside front cover features a full page advertisement for Body Brilliant Chiropractic.
So what else can we do about this?
Jayson D Cooke