HealthWatch: Children And Chiropractic

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — More and more children are receiving chiropractic treatments, Dr. Max Gomez reports.

When four-year-old Gavin Devine was born, his neck was slightly twisted to one side. So when he was barely two-months-old, his father, Kevin Devine, decided to take him to his chiropractor.

“My wife wasn’t able to breastfeed him because it was so painful for him to put his neck in one position,” said Devine. “You could see that the body was healing itself from within and we were very happy.”

The chiropractor did what’s called an adjustment, a spinal manipulation designed to adjust the position and movement of the verterbae, or as Gavin says, “He massages me.”

The treatment was so successful, when his brother Michael was born a year later, he also became a patient.

“There are problems that start at the birthing process that are going unnoticed and that’s why as chiropractors we believe that all children should be checked,” said Dr. David Graber.

Critics said adjustments for children aren’t necessary or even safe. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Shevaun Doyle of the Hospital for Special Surgery showed Dr. Gomez how the vertabrae in an infant’s neck aren’t fully formed and there’s very little protective muscle around it, leaving the spinal cord vulnerable.

“You’re taking care of a patient that is unable to tell you whether or not the manipulation may be too strong. It could be as devestating as, there have been some cases of quadraplegic, paralysis,” said Dr. Doyle.

“A lot of the time we just use our finger tips to make the  adjustments,” Dr. Graber said.

About two million children in the U.S. receive chiropractic treatment every year, making it second only to natural supplements as an alternative treatment.

While real harm appears to be rare, the potential for a devastating injury makes this a potentially risky approach to pediatric problems. Health experts warn that if you’re considering chiropractic manipulation for your child, make sure you go to a chiropractor who has a lot of experience in treating young children.

More from Dr. Max Gomez
  • Jorge Dominguez

    How many children have died of improper Chiropractic adjustments?? How many children have died of improper medical management just during birth? How many children have been killed by NSAID´s? Numbers do not lie. Chiropractic is totally safe for even newborn babies

    • brian

      Agreed….How many children die from just cough medicine prescribed by their pediatricians? It amazes me how many people are willing to swallow a pill that the manufacturer says can kill you……….for example the Celebrex commercials states side effects includes death at least two times.

  • Elizabeth

    My children have been adjusted since birth. In fact, when my son was born, he could not digest any food, The pediatrician who never even looked in the direction of my son when he came into the room just simply stated that he could not breastfeed, and was allergic to my milk. My chiropractor, who did bother to examine my son, said he had a simple hiatal hernia, and was able to help my son, who is 3 now, and perfectly fine! My two sons have NEVER had an ear infection, and are extremely healthy. I work in a chiro office where we treat many children of all ages, and have had much success with many issues children have, from back pain to ear infections to ADHD. Not one problem with the treatment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you cannot adjust a child with the same force as an adult! Chiropractic is fine – and helpful – for children of all ages!!!!!

  • Sarah Duncalf

    What is incredible is that every (false) sentence stated about the risk or danger of chiropractic with children’s ailments can be replaced with the correlating allopathic treatment with actual data to back it up. For example “But critics say surgeries aren’t necessary…or even safe” Pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Shevaun Doyle says “It can be as disastrous as.. there have been cases of quadriplegia in children, paralysis, exactly”


    Go to and take a look at the research that has been done.
    Chiropractic is safe for newborns – seniors! And for kids, much safer than going the medical route!!!!

  • kate

    My children have been adjusted since they were born. They are young adults now and have been and still are 3 of the healthiest people I know. I wish I had the opportunity to have had adjustments since birth.

  • Lindsay

    I was in severe back pain for many years as a kid (which stopped me from being physically active, i had to drop all my sports, and I got nice and fat) before my mom would let me see a chiropractor because of stupid news programs like this. She told me every time I asked to go that I would become paralyzed. My mom listens to the news more than anyone, including her own doctor (she thinks you have to be the best in the country or you wouldn’t be allowed on TV) and so I am angry to see this continuing. I finally went at 19, and it took a year of chiro adjustments and the physical therapy they have in their offices to get me to an almost-healthy back, but it helped so many more issues as well. My quality of life would have been significantly better if my mom hadn’t been too afraid to get me taken care of as a kid.

    How many folks do you people have to scare into only going the medicine/surgery route? It doesn’t help everything, and so people sit around not getting the care they need because you all make them afraid of everything. Ridiculous. If we get a bunch of chiropractors together and offer you all money to promote a “balanced” look at the issue, then will you? Is that all it would take? I’m very much a science loving skeptic, but all these chiropractic fear stories are absurd, offensive, and irresponsible. This isn’t crystal healing! This is trained adjustment of vertebrae that are twisted and pinching nerves. It’s something you can train in, something you constantly evaluate with xrays and all sorts of machiney things, something with a success rate good enough that I’ve never had an insurance plan that hasn’t covered it, even when they don’t cover some “normal” medicines.

  • David Graber

    This version is a completely different one than the original piece that has been airing around the country. CBS News New York has changed what was an overall fair and balanced piece designed to inform the public of a possible healthcare option into a disinformation piece.

    Go to this site and scroll down about 20 stories:

    • Jeanne Ohm

      Isn’t that interesting…

    • Hadley

      Wow. Thanks for that link to the original report. I wonder who promoted the change. There truly is no honor in these reporters. And then to throw in obvious no-nothing medical “experts.” I’d love to see them compare body counts with the chiropractors.

  • Maddy

    Dr. Gomez, you often talk about stuff outside your field.. Many children are born with torticollis, s muscle problem, which can be so bad, that at 3 months the baby cannot roll over on 1 side. The child should have been diagnosed before 1 year if he had that condition. If left untreated by a physical therapist which NYS provides for free to diagnosed babies before the 1rst year of life, the muscle can stiffen and leave a permanent deformity that would later need risky surgery. You should have qualitied your story by distinguishing between necessary physical therapy which Hospital for special surgery provides for this condition, and chiropractic manipulation. I am worried that parents of babies with torticollis wont seek necessary physical therapy in time watching the program. The program confused parents. Also, the HSS doctor interviewed should have noted that safer exercises exist for these sort of conditoins which they treat.

    • Jeanne Ohm

      I have had so many children come in after being treated by PTs- unsuccessfully and then have success with gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments.

  • William Langeland

    Double blind studies verify a very the real danger to any patient who seek spinal surgery and other medical remedies especially when compared to the risks of chiropractic care. You must want more kids on meds? Have you seen the epidemic of children on psych meds over the past 20 years? The least invasive means to help any patient is always the best. This piece creates the same fear as saying flying with any honest hard working american Muslim would be a a risk. That is just as preposterous.

  • William langeland

    This is the most reckless piece of journalism ever regarding health care in America. I have been a chiropractor for 27 years and I must say, Dr Gomez, shame on you. Had Dr Gomez taken a single moment to research this issue you would have found the comments by the orthopedist were biased, invalid and dangerous to the public. The incidence of stroke is statistically near zero. What are the statistics of mortality of surgeries? How about side effects on children who are on endless pediatric psychiatric medications? That orthopedic doctor featured in this piece demonstrated no honest knowledge of the subject and created public fear for self promoting reasons. That facts are that most spinal surgeries have poor outcomes, cost millions and today most medical doctors own or have ownership in most facilities that operate on spines creating “kick backs” that would shock most honest people. Ask the same orthopedist the verifiable risks of manipulation to spinal surgery, anesthesia or even Advil and the numbers are astounding Chiropractic is safe and helpful where orthopedic intervention is the single most dangerous thing that any patient will expose themselves to in their life. Shame on you Dr Gomez. As the medical director you should have reviewed that piece and had the professional integrity to not allow fear mongering by your guest. The facts are the incidence of poor outcomes using chiropractic are 90% less than any medical intervention. I have patients referred to me from some of the top orthopedic surgeons in the world and I have never heard such public stated nonsense. The orthopedic said the equivalent to shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater to get a laugh. Way to go Dr Gomez. Your responsibility to your loyal viewers deserves better than that tripe that you offered.

    • Jeanne Ohm

      Yes, William. Dr Gomez, read the literature before you report! The study this woman is referring to is referenced in this paper: AAP Pediatric Article:
      Adverse Events Associated with Pediatric Manipulation

      If you want to read a researcher’s perspective, not a biased agenda, then read this:

  • Dr. David J. DePalma

    As NJ Chiropractor the problem I had with the report. The Chiropractor was not allowed to adress the concerns of the Orthopedic surgeon. There are specific techniques for the child. The report still left people uninformed about the benefits of Chiropractic. This would avoid comments such as above; “What nexts pre-K prostate exams?” The report gave a little to the benefit of Chiropractic then took a lot away from the benefit. The Anchors did not help in the closing as well. One gave a warning and the other made a “well I would not do it” expression. Has anyone seen the delivery process of a child? Does anyone know the trauma on the infant? Does anyone know that necks are broken and shoulders dislocated? Why do you think hydrocephilus is possible? Who can anchor an open mind?

    • Jeanne Ohm

      The interviews almost always end with the medical “experts” slant. Unfortunately, they are out of their scope every time they refer to chiropractic.

    • Ronen Mendi DC

      First. Chiropractic adjusts (corrects) subluxations that are created in the birth process, due to the strong pull on the head and neck of the baby/newborn.
      Subluxation and nerve irritation are chiropractic specialties.
      Not to say that the medical pull on the head and neck during the birth process ids not important.
      Let’s allow the MDs do what they know, and the DCs (Chiropractors) do what they know.
      Each should handle and do their part.

  • Morgan

    Well, most Americans start their children’s lives by injecting toxins (vaccines) into them, and believe that this is okay.

    Having your child’s nervous system checked by a chiropractor from day 1 is the best thing that you can do for them.. making sure that the child is developing with a properly functioning nervous system is crucial to keeping him/her as healthy as possible.

    If you do a bit of research, you will find that chiropractic is safe and effective for children.

  • Adam Glassman

    A great website to find a pediatric chiropractic is

  • Ben

    My daughter was adjusted by a chiropractor the week she was born. She is now 3 years old and has been very healthy. Friends of mine have taken their kids in to our chiropractor with recurring ear infections and the ear infections stopped after they were adjusted.

  • jbones

    not a single scientific prospective double blind study that demonstrates manipulation in peds does anything.

    • dale

      Why have no double blind studies been done by big pharma? Because it would prove chiropractic is more effective than drugs. Simple, no money to be made by big pharma, no studies done. Chiropractic adjustments stopped my son’s seizures after birth trauma. Thats why I became a chiropractor. Today he’s healthy, 6’5″ and a sniper with three tours in Iraq. Get some facts from the ICPA before you spout nonsense.

    • Kelley LeBlanc

      Not a single double blind study demonstrates that any type of surgery or physical therapy does anything…how would you design such a study?

    • Dr. David J. DePalma

      It motivates me with these positive responses here. Just proves that Chiropracitc practiced properly is effective and safe for many. The facts of the science and philosophy of Chiropractic does separates us from any other healthcare practitioner. Maybe thats why Chiropractors get a lot of negative publicity.The profession pays the least amount of malpractice insurance than any other type of Doctor. Malpractice is determined by the insurance companies by “risk of the procedure”. But yet we get the least payout and most hassled to get paid by the insurance company. Now does not that make sense? For those who still think Chiropractic is a sham, here are other studies to research; Rand study for low back pain, Journal of Manipulative Physical Therapies(JMPT) and the New England Journal Medicine for statistics on the different types of trauma during birth.
      On the flip side of “age”. I have an 88 year old male patient who was diagnosed with a gangerous gall bladder (removal), thyroid cancer (treatmanet and removal) and Parkinson’s disease all within a 1.5 yrs. I have another 86 yr old. woman who survived a mastectomy and Chemo therapy 2 yrs ago. Both have been adjusted the past 15 yrs specifically to their tolerance and remains functional with very little side effects of their pathologies. Most seniors would of never survived. I am sure any worthy Chiropractor out there can tell of similar stories. Chiropractors Associatons should do a rebuttle to this report but I am sure we would get the run around from someone out there. We all should be held accountable for what we do is that not why we ALL are called professionals and licensed? If Chiropractic was all “smoke and glass” we would of disappeared a long time ago. Many have tried and still try but never have succeeded, too bad for them, Chiropractic is not going away. Thank goodness!

  • Ho Lee Krap

    What next, pre-K prostate exams?

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