A few Thursdays ago, chiros in Australia copped a bollocking on Catalyst as Dr Maryanne Demasi turned a spotlight on their profession.

And it wasn’t pretty. What resulted was examples of quackery, infighting between professional bodies and the revelation that chiro does not have an adverse events (AE) reporting system.

You can watch the full report and read the transcript here

I want to emphasise the lack of an AE reporting system, because you often hear the cry from chiros that their profession is overwhelmingly safe, which is usually followed by some strawman about the numbers of iatrogenic deaths in science based medicine. But how do they know their profession is safe if they don’t record adverse events?

Well, to be blunt they don’t.

Even before the programme aired on Thursday night, many chiros had hit the Catalyst FB page,  in a pre-programme show of support (perhaps as result of an email that had been sent by the Chiropractic Association of Australia (CAA) to all chiros warning them about the impending criticism).

I decided to jump in too because I had a burning question that had been bugging me for weeks. It concerns the vaccination status of paediatric chiros and occurred to me when I saw some pictures of chiropractors leaning over very young children to adjust them or whatever they do.

This worries me for several reasons, 1) Australia has been in the grips of a pertussis epidemic and kids have died 2) it’s thought that it is adults who are passing on the bacteria because their vaccination has worn off (pertussis vaccination only lasts between 4 and 8 years) and 3) kids under the age of 12 months are most likely to suffer and die from infection with pertussis given that they are not fully vaccinated thus they’re not protected.

Also by way of background, there are two professional associations for chiros in Australia, the CAA who previously had no policy in vaccination but published one (of sorts) in May 2013.

It’s pretty wishy washy in my opinion,

“Chiropractors do not provide vaccination services; Chiropractors should encourage their patients to make informed health care decisions and to consult their GP in relation to the risks and benefits of vaccination.”

The other being the The Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia (COCA) who are quite clear about their stance on vaccination,

“(COCA) endorses the Government of Australia’s policy and position on immunisation as a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases.”

The full policy can be found here (PDF)

So I had a burning question for paediatric chiros, concerning duty of care for babies and what steps they take to ensure they’re protected during manipulations. I ask this because my guess is if the chiros themselves are anti-vaccination then it seems unlikely they will be diligent about getting boosters, but I could be wrong and I hope I am.

Well known to readers of this blog is anti-vaccine paediatric chiropractor, recently the secretary of the CAANSW, Nimrod Weiner, and who has published several pictures of himself leaning over babies whilst adjusting them on his Facebook page.

Nimrod Weiner declined to comment on the Catalyst episode, (even though a complaint made about his anti-vaccine material was mentioned) so I started off by commenting on a post made by Dr Tony Croke, who says on his website that he “..is skilled in cranial adjusting techniques, which are often very helpful for babies and children”.

He has also previously been a professional member of the anti-vaccination lobby group the AVN (details – well, sort of – here). He is also on the National Board of the CAA, who approved a continuing professional development course by notorious anti-vaccine chiro Tim O’Shea (see coverage here).

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Note the time stamp, 22:45, 12th July, 2013.

I had no luck sadly, so I posted a new thread on July 13th at 00:05

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When still no chiropractors commented, my friend Annette had a go

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Eventually a chiropractor by the name of Steele Butcher jumped in with this

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Let me repeat that,
“As with many professions politics get in the way.”

Politics gets in the way of duty of care to babies. Babies who cannot fend for themselves and are susceptible to vaccine preventable disease which could so easily be prevented if the CAA had the balls to tell their paediatric chiros to get boosted (if they are not, once again I hope I am wrong).

This was my response to Steele.

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Let me make this as clear as possible.

I am not accusing anyone of infecting kids with pertussis. I am seeking an answer to the question, “if you’re working with kids are you considering their welfare by having a booster?”.

On the surface this seems like a simple question but over a week later it remains unanswered by any chiros – at least the ones that flooded the Catalyst FB page anyway.

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You can read the entire thread here if you’re interested. Not that it offers any answers.

So we remain none the wiser about the duty of care of paediatric chiros to vulnerable kids who are at risk of contracting any number of infections from adults who have not been boosted for VPDs. On another thread I asked the chiros what their code of conduct had to say about this and once again this.

I have been to seminars given by paediatric chiros before, in fact ones on the topic of vaccination where I’ve listened to chiros tell parents to get their kids to a chiro as soon as possible after leaving hospital. Within hours if possible.

But at what risk? In medicine, decisions about interventions are determined based on a risk versus benefit ratio. For example, there is a risk in undergoing surgery but if the benefit of removing a tumour or whatever the problem may be, outweighs the risks, then people decide to do it.

But what about the risk ratio for paediatric chiro? Well, when the benefits are a a bit better than placebo, but the risks include sustaining an injury or a vaccine preventable disease, then it’s clear. Avoid it like the plague.

UPDATE: I’ve just asked the question of Tony Croke again.

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