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  • Health experts demand to ban baby chiropractic treatment

    Author: AAP

A video of a Melbourne chiropractor performing a spinal manipulation on a two-week-old baby has prompted medical groups to denounce the "horrifying" practice.

Calls are growing to ban spinal manipulation on babies after "horrifying" footage emerged of a Melbourne chiropractor performing the controversial treatment on a two-week-old boy.

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The video posted to Cranbourne Family Chiropractic's Facebook page last August showed the baby being dangled upside down, tapped on the head and undergoing manipulation of its spine and neck.

Chiropractor Andrew Arnold also uses an activator - a small spring-loaded instrument - to deliver a controlled impulse on the baby's neck and back, causing it to cry.

One of the baby's parents is believed to be off-camera as Mr Arnold talks through the consultation and warns "he (the baby) is going to squawk a bit".


Medical Officer- Rehabilitation
St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside
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St Vincent's Hospital
Registered Nurse/Clinical Nurse (Accident and Emergency Department)
SA Health, Flinders & Upper North Local Health Network

In a 2016 blog post on his clinic's website, Mr Arnold touts the treatment as a way to relieve colic, chronic infections and sleeping and nursing troubles in babies.

"Many spinal problems seen in adults began as early as birth. Even so-called natural birthing methods can stress an infant's spine and developing nervous system," he writes.

But Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon rubbished the claims, calling the treatment unnecessary and unacceptable.

"There is absolutely no evidence that it helps with things like colic or to settle babies," Dr Nespolon told AAP on Wednesday.

"These things are quite normal and most babies will recover with no treatment at all. There's just no need."

Dr Nespolon called on the Victorian government, and others, to ban the practice.

"The concept of manipulating a baby's back is just horrifying," he said.

"The government must start looking at this very carefully and decide whether or not they think it is okay to perform this treatment on a baby."

Dr Nespolon has not personally been in touch with the baby's parents but a spokeswoman for the RACGP was unsure whether another member of the college had spoken to them.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the video was "extremely disturbing."

She's referred Mr Arnold to the Chiropractic Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, asking for an investigation and action.

Mr Arnold and the clinic have been contacted for comment.

The clinic's Facebook page was removed on Wednesday.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians and Australian Medical Association also cautioned against the practice.

"The whole concept of spinal manipulation in infants is a dangerous one," AMA Victorian president Julian Rait told AAP.

"This is a potentially risky thing to do and yet there's no evidence of any benefits."

Associate Professor Rait cited previous studies which showed there could be adverse impacts, including paraplegia and bleeding on the brain.

The Chiropractic Board of Australia said it was aware of the videos but would not comment on whether Mr Arnold acted within their code of conduct.

In 2016, another Melbourne chiropractor was temporarily banned by the AHPRA from treating children after he was filmed cracking the back of a four-day-old baby.


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