By Jonathan Wise D.C., C.A.C.C.P.

My goal today is to educate the audience about what is chiropractic care and how is pertains to children. We will discuss several childhood conditions that are often seen in my practice and society today. I will discuss what the efficacy of chiropractic is and how safe chiropractic is on children.

Thirty years ago the national average rate of Autism was 1:10,000 according to the CDC’s website. Now the rate is 1:45. (1) ADHD was not even an actual diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes was considered an adult-onset, rather an “old man’s disease”, a condition that required years and years of poor lifestyle choices with regards to nutritional and physical exercise requirements. Children rarely ever were diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and auto-immune conditions. This simply is not the case with comparisons to today’s children.

In today standards, it is estimated that 43 of all American children are suffering from one or more chronic diseases. (2) These children are growing into sicker adults. With an estimation of 43% of the US population of children, approximately 32 million kids, the study states that the chronic health assessment increased to 54.1% when the children was overweight or obesity. According to this study, all materials was obtained from 2007 data.2 With today being 2016, this data is over 9 years old. Today we know that children are much worst, perhaps this number for the average child will be well over 50% based off the future publications of 2016 health statistics.

I found a study in the Journal of Pediatrics that stated between 1997 and 2008, developmental disabilities were on the rise. (3) The study states that the number of school-age adolescents diagnosed with autism, ADHD and other developmental disabilities rose by nearly 17 %. The study roughly said 15% of all children or 10 million kids have developmental disabilities. (3) The study reported that these kids have been diagnosed with several disabilities; including seizures, autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, stuttering, stomping, blindness and extreme difficulty with learning. (3)

So many children today suffer from conditions like ear infections, colic, and asthma. So many children today are experiencing neck and back pain. So many children today are labeled and diagnosed with health diseases than ever before. In my office I often see small children with ear infection, colic and asthma. Matter of fact, just this week, I had two new pediatric patients present to my office with colicky-like symptoms and severe reflux, I have had 4 pediatric patients come into the office with ear infections, 2 pediatric patients present with upper respiratory infection. Not to mention the cases of Autism, Asperger’s, Apraxia, ADHD, ADD, neck and back pain. I see on a weekly basis as well. So my question to you is: Why are our children sicker today than in the past?

This is definitely a hard and tough question to answer. It can cover 100’s of variables; genetics, nutritional, exercise, emotional stress, physical stress, etc. The medical communities as a whole are rather split on the answers to solving this question. Some, such as medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, are focused on genetics and classifying condition as a genetic defect. Their goals are to find the next new pharmaceutical drug that will fix the symptoms. Other doctors are looking epigenetic factors while others are looking into nutritional and lifestyle choices. We need to look into a profession that looks at all options, a profession that looks to find the cause of our health challenges and the challenges of our children. That profession is the chiropractic profession.

When out in the public, I run into a lot of people. Many of these people ask the same question, what do you do? I often tell them I am a pediatric and wellness chiropractor. I hear these next questions quite often, what is chiropractic or why would children need chiropractic?

Chiropractic care is a health care discipline that does not focus on symptoms or on the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Chiropractic focuses on finding the underlying problems to our health challenges. Chiropractic care can be successfully administered to any man, women or child, regardless of age. It does not matter if you are taking care of a one day old infant or a 100 year old individual. The Association of Chiropractic Colleges, ACC, defines chiropractic as a health care discipline that emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery. (4) The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. The nervous system controls and ordinates every aspect of life in the body. Chiropractic physicians are well training in; anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, toxicology, diet and nutrition, physical expenditure requirements, how negative emotions can affect the body. Doctors of Chiropractic are some of the greatest authorities on health, wellness and prevention of disease. My profession along with other professions, like osteopathic medicine have documented 1000’s of studies on the safety and efficacy of chiropractic care or spinal manipulations on adults. But many individuals in our society are still unaware of the studies documenting the safety and efficacy of chiropractic care on children. This is a topic we need to get the word out. So many of our children today are sick, we need to start looking into why our children are sick and instead of finding the next big pill to treat symptoms. We need to look into the underlying causes of these sicknesses. The chiropractic profession can help find the underlying causes and this profession can help get our children well.

The next part of this talk, I will be discussing several research articles as to why children should be under chiropractic care and/or supervision by a pediatric trained chiropractor. There are many studies in the past that have documented the safety and efficacy of children along with the positive health outcomes after receiving chiropractic care. I will not talk about every study that has been performed. For the purposes of this talk, I will bring several that I feel are necessary to convey the message.

When one searched google to find out the health repercussions about seeing a doctor of chiropractic, they traditionally will not find statistics on the death tolls society are seeing by the hands of chiropractors. They will not see the statistics about chiropractors breaking bones, ripping the joints apart or severing the spinal cord. The most common “worst case scenario” what an individual might find is the increase changes of stroke after having an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.

The first study I would like to take about is one that was published by the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association, Risk Assessment of Neurological and/or Vertebrobasilar Complications in the Pediatric Chiropractic Patient. (5) One of the biggest health scares in society is the claim that chiropractic care can possible cause an injury at the vertebrobasilar junction which may lead to a stoke. This study computed that between 1966 to 1998 over a half billion adjustments were given to children with an injury rate of approximately 1:250 million. Meaning that 1:250 million chances a pediatric patient will suffer a severe/possible life threatening injury. The author states that after reviewing 31 years of medical literature, there were two injuries reported by the doctors or caregivers. The first report was in 1977, when a 7 year old body suffered a vertebral artery thrombosis while under chiropractic care. The author does states that the young boy was also very active in gymnastics and suffered injuries as a result. There was not a 100% conclusion that the cervical adjustments caused the condition. But there still remains the speculation. The second incident that the author found was in 1992. In this incident, a young boy was presented to the chiropractic office due to a complaint of torticollis. This boy allegedly became a quadriplegic after a cervical adjustment.  The author states that the boy ended up having a tumor, astrocytoma, in his spinal column. The author states that astrocytoma’s are rare and there was nothing prior in the medical literature that states there were any complications associated with astrocytoma and chiropractic care. If the incident did indeed happen as a direct complication of the cervical adjustment, there would have been no way to prevent the outcome without knowing the condition was there. At the time, neither the doctor nor the parents were aware of the tumor. (5)  If both incidences where 100% concluded that the chiropractic adjustment did indeed cause the damage to these two children, the injury rate is still 1/250 million chance that an chiropractic upper cervical adjustment can cause severe or life threatening injuries. Compared to drug reactions that can cause severe or life threatening conditions, this is very rate.

Another study documenting the safety of chiropractic and children is “Evaluation of Chiropractic Management of Pediatric Patients with Low Back Pain. (7) In this study 15 doctors of chiropractic provided data of 54 pediatric patients. This study evaluated the management of patient between the age of 4 and 18 years who presented with lower back pain. According to the study, the pediatric patients responded favorably to chiropractic care. The author states that there were no reported complications.

One large study that was performed at Western States Chiropractic College demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic and children. In this study, “Visits Characteristics of 217 Children attending a Chiropractic College teaching Clinic”, the author concluded that many children presenting to the clinic suffered from ordinary complains of ear infections, allergies and sinus problems, bed wetting, gastro-intestinal and respiratory problems. Of all these pediatric patients, 61.6% seen a complete or significant improvement in their chief complaints. (8)

After reviewing several research studies showing the safety and efficiency of chiropractic care on children, we need to understand the “why” component. Why would a mother and/or father feel the need to get their children’s spine check by a Doctor of Chiropractic?

Children’s spine and nervous system can be damaged by many things. We live in a world filling of toxic substances; many of our food have less nutritional value today compared to over 100 years ago. Our children encounter more physical, chemical and emotional stress today, then ever before. Some of the example I would like to mention are: Prenatal toxins, birth trauma, physical trauma, chemical trauma and emotional trauma. We see many prenatal toxins and traumas that happened to the mom during the pregnancy. From the nutritional choices pregnant women make to sedentary lifestyle choices and the increase negative emotional health that women encounter today. We all know that everything that enters mom’s body will enter and can have an effect on the baby’s body. This is why many doctors advise pregnant mom’s to not take any form of drug, unless it is a necessity.

Birth Trauma is the most common trauma that most infants will experience in their life. Most hospital births end up as the result of a medical doctor pulling and yanking on the heads of newborn babies to assist in getting the infants out of the mother’s vagina. The medical community as a whole sees higher rates of C-sections today than in the past which can also cause spinal trauma. Many MD’s use forceps or high powered vacuums to extract out infants from their mothers. This results in spinal cord trauma. “Spinal cord and brainstem injuries often occur during the process of birth, but frequently escape diagnosis. Respiratory depression in the neonate is a cardinal signal of much injury. In infants there may be lasting neurologic defects reflecting the primary injury”. (9) These procedures are highly damaging to the spines of newborn infants. The damage often is negated and not seen as a problem. This damage is often untreated at the time of injury and is often untreated as they grown and neurologically develop. One such incident happened in Missouri when an Obstetrician internally separated/decapitated a baby’s brain from his spine during the delivery. The parents claim after the injury the doctor then shoved the newborn back inside the mother to perform an emergency c-section to cover up the injury. The Daily News article sited that the doctor claimed the infant’s abdomen was too large to fit through pelvic outlet. (10)

“Birth trauma remains an under publicized and, therefore, an under treated problem. There is a need for further documentation and especially more studies directed toward prevention. In the meantime, manual treatment of birth trauma injuries to the neuromusculoskeletal system could be beneficial to many patients not now receiving such treatment, and it is well within the means of current practice in chiropractic and manual medicine.” (11)

In society, we tend to see physical traumas with care givers and siblings, not on purpose for the most part, but an example like changing diapers incorrectly can cause the thoraco-lumbar section of the spine to lock up in what we call a subluxation. I have even had one of my pediatric infant patients yanked off the couch by his older sister. Children are often falling out of cribs or beds. Just last week, my 3 year old daughter fell out of her bed three nights in a row. Children tend to jump and/or fall off couches. The shear aspect of learning how to crawl and walk will exhibit repetitive falls to their spine. Later on in life, how many times have you caught your children climbing the cabinets to get the cookie jar and then falling onto the hard kitchen floor? As children age, they will be repetitively subjected to trauma’s from jungle gyms to bikes, skateboards and cars. The list can go on and on…

Any form of physical, chemical or emotional stress to the spine and nervous system can cause damage. Today we see more GMO’s in our foods; we see more preservatives and chemicals added to the processed foods. Children are under more negative emotional health with schools and home environments due to the state of our economy. Because of the poor health outcomes of our children, many parents race that child to a medical pediatrician for evaluations and care. Based on our overall standards of care, most of those children will be given a pharmaceutical drug to treat the symptoms of that condition. Why not look into the underlying cause of that condition, damage to the spine and nervous system caused by the lifestyle choices our children and their parents have. Once again, any physical, chemical and emotional stress can cause damage to the spine. If that damage is not corrected or severely minimized, it can lead into spinal degeneration, nerve atrophy, muscle wasting, and chronic diseases.

The only way to keep our bodies healthy and to keep ourselves and our children functioning optimally is to prevent the body from degenerating way too quickly as a direct result of our bad chronic lifestyles.

Every doctor of chiropractic has had pediatric training in college. Just like medicine, this is enough training to give the doctor a chance to decide if he or she wants to continue their studies with pediatrics. If the doctor wishes to continue studying pediatrics, he or she can obtain an advanced certification/fellowship or a diplomat in pediatrics.

Chiropractic care is safe and effective for children regardless of age. Any pediatric trained chiropractor is fully capable of analyzing and adjusting a newborn infant and all the way up to the 18 year old adolescent. Pediatric chiropractors use very light force adjusting technique on infants and they change the force and the pressure based on the child’s age range and/or body size.

As demonstrated, Chiropractic is safe and effective. Please get your children’s spines check today. I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to speak to this group.


  2. Bethell C, Kogan M, Strickland B, Schor E, Robertson J, Newacheck P: A National and States Profile of Lading Health Problems an Health Care Quality for US Children: Key Insurance Disparities and Across-State Variations. American Pediatrics. Volume 11, Issue 3, May 2011 .
  3. Boyle C, Boulet S, Schieve L, Cohen R, Blumberg S, Yeargin-Allsopp M, Visser S, Kogan M: Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children, 1997-2008. Pediatrics; originally published online May 23, 2011.
  5. Pistolese R: Risk Assessment of Neurological and/or Vertebrobasilar Complications in the Pediatric Chiropractic Patient. (Risk of Complications in Pediatric Patients under Chiropractic Care). Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research 1998 (June); 2 (2): 73-81
  6. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of the American Medical Association Apr 15, 1998; 279: 1200 – 1205.
  7. Hayden JA, Verhoef MJ,:  Evaluation of Chiropractic Management of Pediatric Patients with Low Back Pain: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. January 2003. 26(1): 1-8
  8. Nyiendo J, Olsen E: Visits Characteristics of 217 Children attending a Chiropractic College teaching Clinic. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapy 1988; 11 (2); 78-84.
  9. Towbin,A ; Latent spinal cord and brain stem injury in new born infants. Develop Med Child Neurol 1969; 11:54-68 / Medline ID: 69208820
  11. Gottlieb MS; Neglected spinal cord, brain stem and musculoskeletal injuries stemming from birth trauma. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1993; 16(8):537-43 / Medline ID: 94087093