Despite weak evidence supporting the efficacy of chiropractors (and no evidence supporting treatment of non-musculoskeletal conditions), there are over 45,000 chiropractors in the United States alone, who collectively earn about $3 billion annually. A chiropractor specializes in
cracking bones “correcting vertebral subluxations” in your back, despite subluxations not being an actual thing.
A chiropractor is not a medical doctor, yet they routinely make the leap into providing medical advice. Some chiropractors outright deny germ theory, as they believe diseases are caused by the spine being misaligned, and are against vaccinations (despite vaccine efficacy being supported by evidence). Many chiropractors encourage their patients to avoid spending money on pharmaceutical drugs due to belief in some sort of elaborate conspiracy (while hypocritically reaching for medication themselves). A select few go as far as to claim that they can cure cancer. Then there are chiropractors like Ian Rossborough, located just outside of Melbourne, Australia, who practice on children and newborns.
Rossborough has a YouTube channel where he posts videos of himself treating his patients. On his website, he claims to treat a range of illnesses in adults and children alike, from serious spine injuries to ear infections. In January, he posted a video where he treated a four day old premature newborn. Reportedly, the newborn was crying all night due to reflux and colic. Rossborough explained that the cause of this particular newborn’s colic is due to milk fermenting in the child’s stomach, resulting from a “patch” on the child’s spine being wrong, because: reasons. (We’ll ignore the fact that the underlying cause of colic is unknown.)
In the video below, after locating a “patch” on the child’s back, Rossborough explains to the newborn’s mother what he will be doing to the child. He explains that because the newborn is so flexible, he will have to “get some extension” in the child’s spine. As he gets ready to crack the newborn’s back, he says “I have to, unfortunately, distend her a little bit to get it in the right place.” Immediately afterwards, a loud crack is heard as Rossborough presses down firmly on the infant’s spine.
Why a parent would allow someone other than a licensed medical professional to provide any sort of medical treatment on their child, nevermind a newborn, is beyond me. There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that newborns need “adjusting.” However, there is evidence that chiropractors have harmed children. In 2013, an Australian chiropractor broke an infant’s neck. A few years ago, a six year old child’s stroke was linked to an adjustment done by a chiropractor. There are also incidents were adults have died from a stroke shortly after having a chiropractor “adjust” them.
The president of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr. Frank Jones, told the Daily Mail that “there is actually no evidence whatsoever that manipulating the spine makes any difference to things such as colic or asthma.” The month after this video was posted, Dr. John Cunningham (a spinal surgeon in Melbourne) filed a formal complaint with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, who oversees the Chiropractic Board, requesting that the Board itself be removed.
Dr. Cunningham added:
There would be risks of harm. There would be risks that the child could suffer some sort of fracture. Why would you do it? This is the thing that goes through my mind when I watch that video. Why on earth would you do that to a newborn?
The video has been edited for length, but you can watch the full original video (edit: it has been removed from YouTube). If you’re not already angry enough, you can watch eight more videos of chiropractors “adjusting” newborn children on the Debunking Denialism blog.
This article originally appeared on A Science Enthusiast and was re-posted with permission.