Adjusting Children: A New Age Niche or An Established Institute Foundation?

Is Pediatric Chiropractic a new concept within Chiropractic? Is it just some marketing scheme thought up to try and sell Chiropractic to the young and vulnerable? A Millennial fad? The truth is, adjusting infants and children is nothing new to Chiropractic. Actually, it is as old as Chiropractic. Pediatric Chiropractic has been a part of Chiropractic for the past 120 years.

Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by D.D. Palmer in the small Mississippi River town of Davenport, Iowa. Within two years of discovering the principles of Chiropractic, D.D. Palmer established the first Chiropractic school, The Palmer School of Chiropractic, in 1897. To help promote and propagate the Chiropractic message he published his personal writings in 1910. In this book, we find the first (and second) recorded adjustments of children. The Discoverer of Chiropractic writes about how he had adjusted his grandson in 1906 when he was just four days old. The second recorded adjustment was done by Dr. M. Kueck, who adjusted his daughter when she was only one-day-old in 1908. 

As early as 1912, Pediatrics was offered as part of the curriculum at Minnesota Chiropractic College and National Chiropractic College. Printed in 1924 by the Palmer School of Chiropractic, Dr. John H. Craven’s textbook “Chiropractic Hygiene and Pediatrics” was the first full-lengthed published work dedicated to Chiropractic care specifically for children. Previous to this, many catalogs and pamphlets were issued on pediatrics throughout the schools and to the general public. Eastern College of Chiropractic in Newark, NJ released patient education brochures in 1918 that stated that “one adjustment in the child is worth fifty in the adult.”

If you are unfamiliar with the true nature of Chiropractic, you could make the false assumption that there was an epidemic of infantile back pain in the early part of the 20th century. Why else would there be such an emphasis on pediatrics? But restricting Chiropractic into the back pain treatment box is really a modern-day creation. It was understood very early on in Chiropractic, that adjusting children was not only relevant but had great health benefits for them. In Dr. Craven’s textbook, conditions such as nocturnal enuresis (or bedwetting), convulsion (or seizures), and colic are all discussed in detail from a Chiropractic care standpoint. Dr. Craven himself said the book was “written in response to the hundreds of inquiries which have come in from the practicing chiropractors in the field requesting such a work….The technic used in adjusting children is of great importance and is so considered.”  

Chiropractic understood early on that appropriate care and consideration for this special population should not be overlooked. The Chiropractic principle is the same, no matter if you are 1 or 101, but the adjustment is unique for the individual.  Quoting again from Craven’s textbook: “It is best not to use too much force until it is determined just the amount required to move the vertebra… It must also be remembered that the child is small and that it is necessary to adapt the amount of force used to the size of the patient. It is not possible to injure a child with a chiropractic adjustment, but it is possible to apply an awkward force, supposed to be a corrective force, in such a way that subluxations may be produced.” 

Great attention was also placed on the upper cervical spine even in those early days. Quoting further from Craven’s book: “The cervical vertebrae of the infant are very small and extreme care must be exercised in adjusting.” It was already understood in the 1920s that traumas brought on by the modern birthing process could effect the child and health outcomes. Our first subluxation doesn’t occur when we are 40, but can happen when we are just 4 seconds old. Once more quoting Dr. Craven: “Subluxations in the upper cervical region are often produced at the time of birth which causes cord pressure, making the child susceptible to all conditions that would irritate the nervous system.”

The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, which I am a member of, continues to promote the historical and foundational basis that Chiropractic is for the whole family. Through continual evidence-based research, professional training and educational resources, the ICPA validates the philosophy, art and science behind Pediatric Chiropractic. This is because the capacity to heal is older than all of us and is found within the youngest of us. 

- Jarek Esarco, D.C.

Dr. Jarek Esarco is a pediatric and family wellness Chiropractor. He is an active member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). The ICPA is an organization of chiropractic family practitioners dedicated to advancing public awareness and the family wellness lifestyle. Dr. Jarek also has post-graduate certification in the HIO Specific Brain Stem Procedure technique through The TIC Institute. Dr. Jarek is happily married to his wife Regina. They live in Youngstown, Ohio with their daughter Ruby.

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