Australian chiropractors and medical paediatricians are at war over cracking new born babies’ backs. Healthcare professionals on both sides of the debate claim that they are right and that the other side is wrong. Chiropractor Dr Ian Rossborough performed a back cracking chiropractic procedure on a 4-day old baby, which was filmed and posted on Youtube. The 6-minute video has received around one million views and has caused a host of controversy.

Paediatric Chiropractor Responds to “Medical & Media Bullying”

Chiropractor Dr Ian Rossborough said that there was no cracking involved and that the treatment was gentle. He claims that manipulating a baby’s spine was not dangerous when done properly. He went on to say, “we adjust the baby because the parents bring them to us….they come to us in desperation. It makes sense to adjust the spine…it’s the chassis, it’s the thing that everything is connected to. The head sits on the spine, the brain sits inside the skull and talks to the body.”

A Melbourne paediatrician with 30 years’ experience in the field has seriously challenged the treating of babies suffering from colic and reflux by chiropractors. Dr Chis Pappas, the paediatrician at the centre of the story, stated, “No scientifically proven benefits of chiropractic manipulation for young babies and children exist.” He went on to declare his concern and warn of the dangers inherent in this kind of treatment for young babies. Dr Pappas has seen complications resulting from chiropractic treatments before and whilst statistically the number of those injuries are small, they do occur. Babies bones and joins are soft and very flexible and can easily be damaged; the risk is too great. In 2013 Dr Pappas cared for a 4-month old baby who received a fractured vertebrae during a chiropractic session.

In March, the Chiropractic Board of Australia warned its members not to make claims that spinal manipulation could produce general wellness or treat diseases. There is, of course, a history of denigration between the established medical fraternity and the relatively new kids on the block, the chiropractors. The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia alleged that an investigation by the Chiropractic Board found that the chiropractor did not cause the injury, as the baby had a malformation of the spine. Dr Pappas stands by his diagnosis. This controversy does not look like going away any time soon and it may be stethoscopes and back-cracking at twenty paces for a while longer. Of course, the welfare of babies and children is the most important thing here, but each group clearly stands by their own training and types of treatments.