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6 Myths of Safety of Chiropractic Care for Newborns

Newborn baby feet

I’ve had chiropractic care for decades, so I thought I pretty much knew what chiropractors did (and didn’t do). Yet, only moments before I opened the interview with Dr. Andrew Dorough, whom I had never met, I heard myself thinking, “Surely he doesn’t treat babies who are only a few days old! That can’t be safe!” Uh-oh. I had a thing or two to learn about chiropractic care for newborns.

Myth: Some babies are too young to have a chiropractic adjustment

Fact: The earlier a newborn gets help from the pediatric chiropractor, the better.

Dr. Dorough says that over the last seven years, he has safely treated thousands of babies, including those who are only a few days old. And, he explained that adjusting their musculoskeletal system earlier, rather than later, is advantageous.

Myth: Chiropractic is all about snap, crackle, pop

Fact: A pediatric chiropractor doesn’t work that way.

Pediatric chiropractors have special training in manipulating a baby’s musculoskeletal system in a way that is different from the adult body. Hence, chiropractic care for newborns entails using very little pressure. Dr. Dorough says the pressure he uses to adjust a baby’s spine is about the same as the pressure you would use when pressing on your eyelid without feeling pain. It’s very gentle pressure with no twisting, thumping, or cracking.  

Myth: Chiropractic care for newborns can’t possibly be safe

Fact: Like many other treatments given to newborns, a specially qualified professional needs to do the procedure.

You might not for one moment question the idea of having a doctor perform open-heart surgery on a newborn. And that’s because the person performing the procedure has completed years of study, gained clinical experience, earned a state license, and pursued additional specialized training and certification. And, the same is true for the pediatric chiropractor performing chiropractic care for newborns.

Myth: All chiropractors are qualified to treat infants or young children

Fact: A small percentage of chiropractors are certified in pediatric care.

Typically, chiropractors earn a four-year degree in one of the life sciences. Afterwards, they spend another 3-4 years of rigorous academic study and supervised clinical practice to earn a doctoral degree,  qualifying them to take the state licensure exam to practice.

After achieving state licensure, a very small percentage of chiropractors go on to earn a specialty certification. For example, one specialty is pediatric care. After passing the pediatric specialty exam, they will use the designation of CACCP or DACCP or DICCP.

Anyone seeking chiropractic care for newborns, or older infants or children, should look at the chiropractor’s certification. Check out icpa4kids.org to find one in your area. 

Myth: Chiropractic care can’t help feeding problems

Fact: Gentle manipulation of a baby’s spine can allow better movement of the muscles that enable sucking and swallowing.     

It’s easy to say, “No … chiropractors just work on the spine, not the intraoral cavity!” However, that line of thinking bypasses the fact that babies (and adults) have their intraoral cavity attached to the rest of their bodies! In other words, the intraoral cavity does not function in isolation.

But, I would be the first to say that chiropractic care for newborns should not be done without assessment and input from others. It’s best to use a collaborative approach — to get help from a pediatrician, occupational therapist, or any number of other professionals.    

Myth: Chiropractors aren’t real doctors

Fact: Their diploma says otherwise.

Likely as not, the diploma says, “Chiropractic Physician” or “Doctor of Chiropractic.” (The root word, chiro originates from the late 19th century English for hand, plus the Greek term, praktikos, meaning practical.)

Medical doctors earn a diploma that says Doctor of Medicine. Hence, they have earned a doctoral degree for using medicine. Similarly, the chiropractor has earned a doctoral degree by using his (or her) hands, rather than medicine.

In my book, a person who has earned a doctoral degree is a real doctor.

Dr. Dorough helped me to realize that chiropractic care for newborns, if done correctly by a qualified professional, is safe and often effective in helping with latch problems, or any type of feeding problem. In the past, I’ve overlooked this possibility.

Have you sought chiropractic care for newborns? What was your experience? Share in the comments below!

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