The safety of chiropractic care for children will be the subject of a substantial review by the College of Chiropractors of B.C.
The college’s board decided earlier this month to order the review of spinal manipulative therapy for children under the age of 10, according to a public notice.
“The CCBC Board is not satisfied that an exhaustive review of research and full consideration of this topic has been completed,” the notice says.
The review is expected to be complete by late September, registrar Michelle Da Roza told CBC in an email.
The college is following Australia’s lead on this.
Earlier this year, the state of Victoria ordered an independent review of chiropractic care for children, striking a panel that includes pediatric experts from a wide range of medical professions. While that review is underway, the country’s chiropractic board has placed an interim restriction on using spinal manipulation on anyone under the age of two.
B.C.’s college has not placed any similar restrictions on the practice of chiropractors here.
College staff and “several independent parties” will be part of B.C.’s review. According to Da Roza, that group will include a policy research contractor and a Canadian research group.
They’re doing a “rapid research review” of studies on the safety of spinal manipulation for children, scanning regulations for chiropractors from other provinces and countries, and looking into the curricula at chiropractic colleges.
B.C. goes it alone
The college’s review has been in the works for awhile, but there was some hope B.C. would not be going it alone on this.
In March, the college’s interim registrar told CBC he hoped B.C. would be part of a nationwide review on the subject, but things didn’t work out that way.
Da Roza explained that the college wanted to move quickly on the review and decided to proceed on its own.
“This does not prevent other provincial partners from joining at a later date. The CCBC is also very open to sharing our policy research and information with other jurisdictions and the public,” she said.
Chiropractic treatment of children has been a subject of controversy across the country in recent years.
Some chiropractors argue their treatments are necessary, even for newborns, arguing that a baby’s spine can become misaligned during labour and delivery.
In Ontario, there have been complaints about chiropractors performing adjustments on babies while they’re still in hospital, violating the rules of some facilities.
Meanwhile, a number of chiropractors in B.C. have made unfounded and unscientific claims about using spinal and cranial manipulation to treat childhood conditions like autism, ADHD and speech disorders.
Last year, the college formally banned all chiropractors from making those claims, “due to the absence of acceptable evidence,” and began cracking down on practitioners who defy the rules.
Dozens of chiropractors have faced investigations over alleged violations, but Da Roza said the college hasn’t identified any questionable material since April.
According to a position paper from the Canadian Pediatric Society, there have been no satisfactory studies of chiropractic treatments for back pain in children. Some studies have suggested that chiropractic manipulation of the neck can provide short-term relief of neck pain in children, but its efficacy hasn’t been compared to other therapies, the paper says.