The Safety of Chiropractic for Children

A Researcher’s Perspective

The Safety of Pediatric Chiropractic
Joel Alcantara, DC, ICPA Research Director

A survey study examining the practice characteristics and pediatric care of chiropractors (1)in the Boston area estimated that approximately 420,000 pediatric chiropractic visits were made in the Boston metropolitan area alone for 1998. If extrapolated for the rest of the United States and Canada, the number of chiropractic visits to children in one year would be enormous numbering in several million visits. Given this high utilization rate of pediatric chiropractic services in the United States and Canada, statistics should indicate a great number of morbidity and mortality. On the contrary, there exists little evidence of harm to children from chiropractic.

When the Canadian Pediatric Society published their position statement on, “Chiropractic Care for Children: Controversies and Issues,” (2) they addressed the issue of “The Safety of Chiropractic in Paediatrics,” Only one case report of vertebrobasilar occlusion in a seven-year-old was cited. It occurred following gymnastics and repeated chiropractic manipulations of the cervical spine (3). They further readily admit that, “Reports of other paediatric complications are few.”

In Perspective:

  • Its been estimated that the annual cost of medication-related problems in the United States is approximately $84.6 billion (4,5)
  • The human impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (i.e., aspirin)-related gastrointestinal deaths have been estimated at rates higher than that found from deaths due to cervical cancer, asthma or malignant melanoma (6)
  • Medication errors and adverse drug events are three times higher in children and substantially higher still for neonates (7).
  • The list could go on…

Chiropractic for Children is Here to Stay

Millions of children and their families will continue to experience the benefits of this safe and efficacious form of care called chiropractic. Chiropractic researchers are looking into the salutary effects of chiropractic care in children with subluxations and concomitant conditions like ADHD, asthma, colic and others. When two forms of healthcare meet at the crossroads of patient care, there will be controversy.

As a researcher, all I ask is an honest and open dialog about the issues at hand so that all are informed. When a medical doctor questions the chiropractic care for children and not the growing use of stimulants, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs in children as young as 2-4 years of age (8), then their motives come into question. In future articles, I will discuss the efficacy and safety of Chiropractic care for children in topics from A-Z (i.e., from ADHD to the use of x-rays in chiropractic practice) based on the scientific literature for the benefit of the readers to be informed.


  • Lee AC, Li DH, Kemper KJ. Chiropractic care for children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med2000;154:401-407.
  • Canadian Chiropractic Association -
  • Hondras MA, Linde K, Jones AP. Manual therapy for asthma (Cochrane Review).Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001;1:CD001002.
  • Johnson JA, Bootman JL. Drug-related morbidity and mortality. A cost-of-illness model.Arch Intern Med 1995;155:1949-1956.
  • Bates DW, Spell N, Cullen DJ, Burdick E, Laird N, Petersen LA, Small SD, Sweitzer BJ, Leape LL. The costs of adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Adverse Drug Events Prevention Study Group. JAMA 1997;277:307-311.
  • Singh G.Gastrointestinal complications of prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: a view from the ARAMIS database. Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Aging Medical Information System.Am J Ther. 2000;7:115-121.
  • Kaushal R, Bates DW, Landrigan C, McKenna KJ, Clapp MD, Federico F, Goldmann DA. Medication errors and adverse drug events in pediatric inpatients. JAMA2001;285:2114-2120.
  • Zito JM, Safer DJ, DosReis S, Gardner JF, Boles M, Lynch F. Trends in the prescribing of psychotropic medications to preschoolers. JAMA 2000;23:1025-1030.


More information about Chiropractic for Children…

1. Why should children have chiropractic care?
2. What can chiropractic do for your child?
3. Questions Parents Ask

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