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More Witches Down Under
The witch hunt against
pediatric chiropractic care Down Under has resurfaced on a television program, Studio 10. The TV hostess introduced her
interview with Dr. Ian Rossborough and immediately showed her bias with the
inflammatory prelude, “The crack heard around the country and has gone viral
around the world.”
First clue this was going
to be another witch hunt by an uninformed news person. You can view this
interview here: Baby
cracking chiropractor flounders, published on May 3, 2016, Studio 10, with Anne Blake:
“Interview with Melbourne
chiropractor Ian Rossborough about the promotional video in which he claimed to
treat a four day old baby for "colic" by administering a painful
crack to the lower back. The loud crack and the baby's screams have caused
widespread outrage and led to calls for the banning of chiropractic ‘therapy.’"
As you can see, even the
introduction to this video clearly shows bias – “administering a painful crack…baby’s screams have
cause widespread outrage and led to calls for the banning of chiropractic
Of course, the only “calls for the banning of
chiropractic therapy” stem from the medical curmudgeons and their allies in the
media. However, no parent of any colicky child has called for any ban, but
presenting a “fair and balanced” argument was not the intent of this TV
program’s witch hunt.
It was obvious from the start Dr. Rossborough had already
been convicted in the minds of this TV panel. Aside from one woman who spoke
about chiropractic helping her migraines, the other panelists teamed up to cast
aspersions with inflammatory remarks at Dr. Rossborough. Certainly their tone
was very skeptical and I doubt nothing he said would have convinced
Another newspaper article has also recently appeared Down Under in the Daily Mail casting the same aspersions
against the notion of pediatric chiropractic featuring a chiropractor who is
also a television personality, “Bachelor
star Tim Robards works at health clinic which promotes controversial
chiropractic techniques to treat newborns,” by Jenny Awford for Daily Mail Australia on May 3, 2016.
Undoubtedly this television bachelor and sexy hunk must have created
mixed emotions among the female panelists – on one hand physically attracted to
this good looking professional, but now taught to be afraid of his profession.
Oh, the pain of unrequited love!
This article once again quoted the same curmudgeon: “President of the College of GPs, Dr. Frank Jones, told Daily Mail Australia that manipulating a
child's spine is a 'cruel' process. ‘I think that this is an unnecessary and
seemingly almost cruel process that there is actually no evidence to support,’
Dr. Jones said. ‘It should not be advertised, it should not be practiced.’”
Certainly manipulating a child’s spine is not safe practiced by an
untrained MD, but for chiropractors trained in pediatric spinal care, it is an
effective treatment as the research shows and as Drs. Rossborough and Robards
Once again Dr. Jones’ statement is without merit
considering there are scientific studies supporting pediatric chiropractic care.
Just like the news reporters, Dr. Jones simply did not do his homework on this
issue, typical of a witch hunt to ignore the facts and act solely on emotion
and vested interest.
A simple search on PubMed would have found
the studies I previously cited in
support of chiropractic care for colicky babies, such as:
The Chiropractic Care Of
Infants With Colic: A Systematic Review Of The Literature.[i]
RESULTS: Our findings reveal that chiropractic
care is a viable alternative to the care of infantile colic and congruent with
evidence-based practice, particularly when one considers that medical care
options are no better than placebo or have associated adverse events.
Efficacy of Chiropractic Manual Therapy on Infant
Colic: A Pragmatic Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial.[ii]
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, chiropractic manual
therapy improved crying behavior in infants with colic.
therapies for infantile colic.[iii]
CONCLUSION: The majority of the included trials
appeared to indicate that the parents of infants receiving manipulative
therapies reported fewer hours crying per day than parents whose infants did
not, based on contemporaneous crying diaries, and this difference was
mantra of “fair and balanced,” FOX News in the US jumped on this bandwagon with
its segment, WATCH:
Chiropractor Faces Firestorm for Cracking This Newborn Baby's Back. To its
credit, unlike the TV segment from Down Under, this FOX report included a few
One doctor said on Fox and Friends Weekend this
morning that the treatment is not as dangerous as it may sound – and “works
really well with calming babies.”
“The noise you hear is gas being released
from the joint. It’s a fairly normal thing,” said Dr. Tim Bain of Bain Complete
Wellness. “You’re not cracking the back, per se.”
But attending physician Dr. Philippa
Cheetham says she wouldn’t do it for her kids.
“The problem with this – first of all, we
still don’t know what causes colic. We know that it’s a very distressing
symptom for baby and for parents,” she told Brian, Tucker and Anna.
Colic is “extremely common,” Dr.
Cheetham pointed out. “Children grow out of it. We must remember that this
does not have a medical cause.”
“We have to be very careful,” she added.
“There’s no evidence that this is effective treatment for colic.”
Once again we see another uninformed expert on this
issue considering there is plenty of evidence. Afterwards, the ACA
sent a response to FOX News on April 28, 2016, noting a 2014 review that found
only 12 reported cases of serious adverse events (seven of which involved a
chiropractic physician) and three reported deaths (none of which involved a
doctor of chiropractic) in over 115 years of literature. 12 cases in 115
years! Can any medical treatment compare as well?
“Published cases of serious adverse events in infants and children
receiving chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy, or manual medical therapy
are exceedingly rare. There have been no cases of deaths associated with chiropractic
care reported in the academic literature to date.”[iv]
Another study found parents who bring their children
to a Doctor of Chiropractic are highly satisfied. A 2008 study noted that
examined 781 pediatric patients under 3 years of age (73 percent of whom were
under 13 weeks) who received 5242 chiropractic treatments over a 3-year period,
85 percent of parents reported improvement in their children’s symptoms.[v]
Yet will this good evidence be mentioned by Fox
& Friends or will an apology from Dr. Philippa Cheetham be forthcoming?
Certainly Dr. Rossborough needed more preparation for
his interview. For example, many members on the panel of this medical inquisition
kept asking, “Where are the research studies?” It would
have been helpful if he had done research on this issue beforehand to cite
Instead he replied, “I’m not an
expert on research, people can access the evidence what’s out there.” That went
over well as if he was dodging the question.
Other comments from the uninformed TV
panelists indicated their fears and worries, such as “I can’t watch without
wincing…total bunk…taking advantage of parents.”
Another panelist asked, “Why did the baby need a spinal manipulation?”
“Because it was crying incessantly,” Dr. Rossborough
“But don’t all babies cry?” Obviously this woman is
unaware of the ordeal of colic.
“Most babies cry 2 or 3 hours a day, but not 24
hours day and night.”
Again, she seemed to be minimizing the need for
care; after all, she replied, “most babies grow out of it.”
Another panelist asked, “Have
you used it on your own children?”
“Of course, yes,” he
Obviously these questions
were intended to raise the emotional tenor among the audience of this
television inquisition. They also kept ignoring the fact the colicky baby is now
better, a point Dr. Rossborough made but ignored by the panelists.
If the goal of the TV
producers was to strike an emotional chord, I would be curious to know how these
panelists might feel if they had watched this instruction video, FORCEPS
DELIVERIES - PIPER FORCEPS | Medical Training Film? What would they say about another YouTube
news report with parents saying their baby allegedly died after its head was
crushed in a forceps delivery?[vi]
Obviously these women
were reacting emotionally after viewing the infant’s adjustment and hearing the
baby cry. Apparently the baby crying or as they put it, “screaming,” was enough
to throw the baby out with the bathwater! (Pun intended!)
If the criterion of a
baby crying is sole evidence of an unacceptable medical treatment, these
panelists would freak out seeing the use of forceps delivery or watching
children cry from vaccine injections that undoubtedly are more traumatic and
controversial than Dr. Rossborough’s gentle adjustment.
If the truth be known,
spinal adjustments never look good to someone who has never been adjusted –
they just don’t understand how good it can feel. Adding to the “cracking”
sound, the crying of an infant certainly pulls at the heart strings of anyone,
compounding the sympathy for the baby and anger toward the alleged assailant.
Indeed, Dr. Rossborough was damned from the start on his own video by naïve
viewers who have taken it completely out of context.
In my office, I discourage
patients who want to bring family members or potential new patients into my
adjusting room to watch. I have seen on those rare occasions when I have
allowed them to watch, undoubtedly they flinch, thinking it is a painful
experience. They obviously have seen too many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
showing him wrenching necks!
I must admit Dr.
Rossborough’s explanation also was too obtuse for this medically-minded panel
to understand. For instance, he was unable to give a good explanation how his
manipulation helped colic. He admitted there is no “colic bone to adjust” and
explained chiropractors “Take something that is not natural and make it
While that may be true,
it was not a concrete example for this panel or TV audience to understand. Indeed,
neurophysiology and spino-visceral physiology is a difficult subject to explain
to laymen or to MDs stuck in the germ theory.
At the end of the
interview, the TV hostess shot another zinger at Dr. Rossborough when she
broached an incident when a baby allegedly died from a spinal fracture after
being adjusted. Dr. Rossborough replied that “that didn’t happen, it was a congenital
deformity.” He also mentioned “if there were a problem, I would know about it, but
I haven’t heard of one.” Considering there have been only 12 cases in 115
years, he is perfectly right to suggest chiropractic care for infants is
incredibly safe – again a statistic he should have used to put these panelists
on their heels.
Instead, he was forced onto
his heels to defend his actions in a victimless non-crime to a group of
ignorant and biased TV panelists who obviously had an ax to grind and wanted to
be judge and jury in the court of public opinion. It was definitely a no-win
situation for Dr. Rossborough.
To pour more salt into
his wound, just before the end of the interview the hostess asked him, “Do you
support vaccination?” knowing this is also a very controversial topic very
similar to abortion in an attempt to portray him as a medical heretic. Dr.
Rossborough aptly said, “I support the parents’ choice.” Bravo!
What should have been a story of baby getting well
with happy parents instead continues to be a witch hunt to a crowd of bloody
reporters wanting their pound of flesh from this alleged baby abuser.
If Dr. Rossborough had done his homework, he could
have nipped this medical argument at the bud. Instead, we now see him and the
entire profession reeling from behind the wave of unsubstantiated criticism.
If this medical inquisition were “fair and balanced”
about medical iatrogenesis in general, a comparison of chiropractic vs. medical
care would have been appropriate to put the danger/safety issue into
perspective. That would have opened up a whole new can of worms!
For example, a recent article in the British Medical Journal revealed the
overall danger of medical care: “Medical error—the third leading
cause of death in the U.S.”[vii] Yet I
doubt this article will be the topic of “Studio 10” or go viral in the
media although it is much more important matter to more people than pediatric
Another irony appeared recently
in coincidental article in the Medical Journal of Australia: “Perspectives:
management of low back pain.”[viii]
If “patient safety” is an issue Down Under, this article should raised a bigger
issue than pediatric chiropractic care. The authors stated “Spinal surgery for
chronic low back pain is controversial, and the disproportionate number of
fusions in private hospitals is unexplained.” Obviously this is quite a damning
indictment from the leading medical journal that will probably go unmentioned Down
Under by these Chicken
A related online article published by
the MJA InSight newsletter on April
26, 2016, Spinal
Fusion Surgeries Questioned,[ix] also was painfully clear the urgent need
to stop the tsunami of back surgeries:
“Spinal fusion surgeries for chronic low back pain are
on the rise, despite the lack of research to back their efficacy, and
experts are now calling for tighter guidelines, including a waiting period.”
Dr. Richard Williams,
orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for the Royal Australasian College of
Surgeons, told MJA InSight that a key regulation should be that patients
must wait a period of 12 months before a spinal fusion surgery was performed,
noting "Most patients will recover after these 12 months” without any
Imagine the impact this
policy would have on the lives of thousands of Aussies, the money that would be
saved by avoiding the high cost of surgery, hospitalization, rehab and the
inevitable chronic pain that follows failed back surgery and the risky use of
opioid (heroin) painkillers.
But these important
issues were virtually ignored in the media in lieu of one DC who adjusted an
infant in a victimless non-crime. Suddenly these television personalities pile
on acting as if chiropractic care is more dangerous or controversial than back surgery
or narcotic pain pills. Again, a typical reaction in a witch hunt to ignore
real threats instead harping on imaginary ones.
It’s probably only a
matter of time before this witch hunt goes viral in the U.S. and every advanced country of the world,
just as the Lana Lewis case went viral after she suffered a fatal stroke on September 12, 1996 in Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian
media, with encouragement from the medical society, jumped on this case to
frighten the public and even demanded that chiropractors not be allowed to do
This lone incident created the fear that
chiropractors may cause strokes or paralysis, and the medically-friendly media
was glad to spread this Chicken Little
scare, “Chiropractors causing strokes.”
The evidence in this case was spurious and unsupported, but the medical
propagandists did not let the facts get in their way and used the event to
tarnish the professional image of chiropractic as dangerous.
chiropractor was eventually found not negligent in this case, but the PR damage
was already done in the media.
The Hamilton Spectator’s headline was most sensational, "Getting Back
To The Truth; Once Again, The Chiropractic Community Simply Won't Come Clean
About Neck Manipulation." The headlines of the majority of newspaper articles
were completely false or exaggerated, yet this headline clearly suggested the
chiropractic profession was covering-up the truth.
At trial researchers brought to light many
interesting facts about spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) and stroke that never
made it past the salacious headlines or biased newspaper articles to rebuild
chiropractic’s reputation after the initial headlines had already convicted
chiropractors in the court of public opinion.
This stroke issue is not exclusively a North American or Australian
issue. In 2010 this issue resurfaced with an incendiary report from England, “Deaths after Chiropractic: a Review of
Published Cases,” by Edzard Ernst of the Medical
School at the University of Exeter.
Once again he raised the level of fear over chiropractic care when he noted
that “Twenty-six fatalities were published since 1934 in 23 articles.”[x]
Considering 26 deaths over 76
years equates to 0.34 deaths per year (which is one-third of a person!),
instead of sounding an alarm to scare people, Ernst should have praised
chiropractic care for its obvious safety record since this is an extremely low
rate in comparison with equivalent medical methods for the same diagnostic
On June 8, 2012, a London newspaper
published another article that came unexpectedly and immediately went viral, “Letting Chiropractor 'Crack' Your Neck To Relieve Pain Could Trigger
Stroke” with the subtext, “Neck 'cracking' could trigger 'catastrophic' health
problems such as strokes, experts have warned.”[xi]
Nonetheless, this publication went
viral with nine articles appearing within days across the pond. This unfounded
attack was not spurred by any event—no one had died and no one was injured—so
this attack virtually came out of nowhere.
“Is Spinal Manipulation For Neck Pain Safe?” by Lara Salahi, ABC World News With Diane Sawyer
“Is Spinal Manipulation For Neck Pain Safe? Experts Disagree” by Kim Painter, USA TODAY
Spinal Manipulation For Neck Pain Be Abandoned?” Science Daily, June 7, 2012
Manipulation For Neck Pain 'Inadvisable '” BBC
News, 7 June 2012
Over Risk From Spinal Manipulation," NHS
Choices, 7 June 2012
Debate Safety And Value Of Spinal Manipulation For Neck Pain,” Arthritis
Research UK, 08 June 2012
“Is Spine Manipulation For Neck Pain Safe? A Common Chiropractic Treatment For Neck Pain Is
“Inadvisable” Due To A Risk Of Stroke, And Should Be Avoided, Say
Experts." By Shawn Radcliffe, Men's
“Stroke Risk From Neck Pain Treatment, Spinal Manipulation Used By
Chiropractors As A Treatment For Neck Pain Should Be Abandoned Because Of The
Risk Of Causing Strokes, Say Experts" by Peter Russell, Web MD
“Spinal Manipulation For Neck Pain Should Be Abandoned," by
Ingrid Torjesen, Onmedica News, 8 June 2012