Doctors urged to caution parents

Feb. 27, 2002

Chiropractic treatment of children unproven, pediatricians warn

Prithi Yelaja
Toronto Star

The Canadian Pediatric Society is urging pediatricians and family doctors to advise parents against taking children to chiropractors for treatment of colic, ear infections, bed-wetting and asthma.

While the society stops short of denouncing the practice in a position paper released yesterday, it says there is little or no scientific evidence to support chiropractic adjustments in children for back pain, let alone asthma, colic or other medical problems.

"There's no evidence showing that it does any good. It does cost money and has potential side effects, so I don't think it's a good idea," said Dr. Linda Spigelblatt, a Montreal pediatrician and the paper's lead author.

"Obviously, that's a major concern that we have and I think that's why parents have to be told that there is no evidence that chiropractic can help these conditions, at least not yet, not from what's in the available literature."

The society is also concerned that parents may be delaying or bypassing proven medical treatments to try unproven chiropractic adjustments, she said.

The position paper urges doctors to learn as much as they can about chiropractic and to routinely query parents in a non-judgmental way about whether they are using it for their children.

Of particular concern to the society and the committee that drafted the paper is that some chiropractors advise parents not to immunize children against such diseases as polio, measles, rubella and mumps.

"For very well-documented reasons, pediatricians are extremely pro-vaccination, and that's an important message for parents that vaccination is proven to be effective and there's no reason for children not to be vaccinated other than medical indications," Spigelblatt said.

The Canadian Chiropractic Association supports vaccination, although some of its members disagree with it, said spokesperson Dr. Stan Gorchynski of Toronto.

"Some chiropractors take a drugless approach to health, but our policy is we are supportive of it as long as the scientific validity is there for it."

Chiropractors who urge parents not to immunize their children can be disciplined, he added.

Because of a lack of funding, Gorchynski said chiropractic relies heavily on anecdotal evidence, though he agrees more scientific studies must be done.

"We consider chiropractic to be complementary health care. We don't see ourselves at odds with anyone. The pressure is on patients to make informed decisions."
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