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Chiropractic Care for Children - Exemplary Safety Record in Australia

As the Director of the Australian Children’s Chiropractic Centre, I am incredibly proud of the work our team has done to support children of the Newcastle, Central Coast, Hunter and Manning Valley since 2016.

We have developed an excellent reputation for the wonderful care our team provides. Part of that care is developing strong, robust relationships with families that are built on trust, education, and empowerment.

All families are encouraged to research, review and weigh up any health care support they are considering for their families. One of the first questions parents should ask of any care provider is, ‘Is it safe?’.

Chiropractic Care for Children, Is it Safe?

Summary: Chiropractic care for children has an exemplary safety record in Australia. Not only do parents have a high rate of satisfaction with chiropractic care for their children (99.6%), but there is also no evidence of harm in Australia. (Safer Care Victoria, 2019)

Let’s Look Closer At The Research

There are many opinions about chiropractic, particularly for children. However, I want to make the distinction that some ‘experts’ will have an opinion, but rarely are they an ‘expert opinion’ on the topic. Often, they are sensationalised, emotive accusations of harm or potential harm without evidence for the argument.

It is also important to note that medical practitioners, physiotherapists, and osteopaths can all provide similar care.

Let’s look at the facts
In Australia
  • It is estimated that there are more than 19 million visits to chiropractors each year
  • 8.6% of these visits are for children, making an estimated 1.6 million visits to chiropractors annually (Todd et al., 2016)
  • This equates to 30,000 children’s visits each week in Australia
  • These stats are similar in North America, Europe, and New Zealand (Australian Chiropractors Association, 2019).


The Safer Care Victoria Review 2019

The Chiropractic profession is the only profession with an Australian government-funded inquiry reviewing the safety of care of this size.

In 2019, the Victorian Minister for Health asked Safer Care Victoria to lead a national review of the practice of spinal manipulation on children under 12 years.
It was the largest and most robust independent inquiry in Australian history.
The inquiry's results provide the public with a fantastic amount of data and insights into the safety and characteristics of Chiropractic care for children in Australia.

 

The review has shown chiropractic care for children to be extremely safe.

(Australian Chiropractors Association Media Release 13 June 2024)

 

How was the review conducted?

The Safer Care Victoria inquiry included a three-part assessment. It reviewed;

  • Research literature from around the world
  • An audit of the leading professional indemnity insurer in Australia for any civil claims involving chiropractic care to a paediatric patient and
  • Opened a questionnaire that asked for submissions from the public and community members. This review received 26,600 submissions via survey responses on the government website.

Overwhelmingly, 99.6% of parents and guardians reported a positive experience with chiropractic care for their children.

 
Who submitted their experience/opinion?
  1. Australian parents and guardians of children under 12 years who have received chiropractic care in the last 10 years made up 22,043 of the submissions.
  2. Community members who have not accessed chiropractic care for children under 12 in the past 10 years but wanted to share their opinion totalled 4558 submissions.
It's important to note that no other enquiry has received this high level of responses. The fact that so many people submitted their experiences shows the incredible impact Chiropractic has had on their children’s lives.

 

What we can learn from the data?

The data from Safer Care Victoria was analysed independently and published by the government, detailing the results on the Safer Care Victoria website. It was then further reviewed and published by the Chiropractic representative on the Safer Care Victoria review panel, Dr Genevieve Keating, in her 2021 paper, giving a voice to the parents’ submissions, experiences, and opinions on the chiropractic care provided.

What age were the children who visited a Chiropractor?

Parents' and guardians' responses described chiropractic care for infants 0-3 months all the way up to 12 years. Some children had care across multiple age groups, demonstrating how Chiropractic Care can support families at various stages of paediatric development and through growth.

Why did parents and guardians seek Chiropractic care for their child?

Dr Keating’s paper reviewed the top concerns parents had that led them to seek chiropractic care. The responses included;

  • posture concerns (31.7%)
  • colic (28.7%)
  • neck pain (23.4%)
  • breastfeeding (22.6%)
  • back pain (21.8%)
  • other (48.9%) - this included post-birth check up, sleep, wellbeing, pain, alignment, reflux, hip problems, extremity joint, prevention, tongue tie, constipation and fall.

This list indicates an incredibly broad range of issues or complaints parents were concerned about.

 
Do children benefit from chiropractic care?
The parents’ answer was an emphatic - Yes!
  • A total of 99.6% of parents reported that chiropractic care benefited their child
    • 87.25% reporting their child was much improved
    • 11.1% reporting their child somewhat improved
  • 99.14% of parents felt well informed and involved in the decisions about the care, indicating good communication and collaboration in health care decision-making.

What did the Safer Care Victoria review say about safety?

The Literature Review
The literature review performed by Safe Care Review revealed that "the potential risk of harm from spinal manipulation in children was rare, and when it did occur, was typically minor in severity". There was no evidence of harm in Australia.

Insurer Audit
The largest insurer of Chiropractors in Australia had never had a civil claim against a Chiropractor for Paediatric care.

Parents Responses
Parents stated that the care provided was safe and that there were no adverse events and almost no side effects (two mild side effects, a little bruising on an older child and one child who was a little more restless) out of 22,043 responses).
Of the 22,043 responses, 98.35% of all responses indicated improvement. Of the very small number 0.4% who were unhappy with care, there were no reports of adverse events, safety concerns or issues that would warrant follow-up by the relevant regulatory body (2021, Keating)

Each review element provided overwhelmingly positive responses about Chiropractic Care for children.

The Safe Care Review’s parent responses add to the excellent safety profile and high satisfaction level of chiropractic care for children. These results have been demonstrated repeatedly in international research.

 

A Chiropractors Training & Our Team

Chiropractors are five-year university-educated healthcare professionals equipped with expertise enabling them to tailor appropriate care for people of all ages, including children. Our team is incredibly unique in the excellent high-level paediatric training, mentoring, and collaboration we offer to our families.
We are confident that you will find the experience at the Australian Children’s Chiropractic Centre to mirror these research findings. We look forward to welcoming your family to our community of parents looking for safe and natural ways to support their children’s health.

References

Australian Chiropractors Association Press Release, 13th June 2024 99.6% of Australian parents affirmed chiropractic healthcare benefitted their child
Todd, A. J., Carroll, M. T., & Mitchell, E. K. L. (2016). Forces of Commonly Used Chiropractic Techniques for Children: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 39(6), 401-410. https://doi.org/f5z7
Keating, G.M., 2021. Do Children in Australia Benefit from Chiropractic Care? (Doctoral dissertation, Fielding Graduate University).
Safer Care Victoria. (2019). Chiropractic spinal manipulation of children under 12 - Independent review.

Dr Jacey Pryjma

Dr Jacey Pryjma

Director of the Australian Children's Chiropractic Centre, Dr Jacey Pryjma brings together a team passionate about supporting children to grow in a world where healthy practices and taking care of the body is a number one priority.

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