Background: Children, particularly infants, commonly present to chiropractors. Few studies have concentrated on the demographic profile of infants as well as clinical changes reported by parents of infants under chiropractic care. Objectives: To identify the demographic profile of infants presenting to a chiropractic clinic and to investigate any change of infant symptoms and maternal feelings following an episode of chiropractic care.
Setting: This health care observation study was performed at a chiropractic teaching clinic on the south coast of England.
Subjects/Patients: The study included all mother-infant dyads who presented to the clinic between August 2011 and June 2015 and could read and write English and who consented to complete the forms. Exclusion criteria were mothers of infants older than one year of age at presentation.
Methods: All mothers were asked to complete two questionnaires at the initial visit and two follow-up questionnaires at discharge. Data collected were sociodemographic characteristics along with questions asking for graded responses regarding the daily amount of irritable behavior in their child, level of distress the mother feels with her child’s behavior, restfulness of infant sleep during the week and difficulty to console the child when crying as well as to the clinical experience provided. Additionally, the validated Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was used as a report of the mother’s feelings.
Results: 413 mothers completed the intake questionnaires. 197 (48%) mothers completed the discharge questionnaires. At intake, 50.3% (n=182) of the patients were four weeks of age or younger. The presenting complaint appeared before the age of two weeks in 79.1% (n=161) of the cases. 30.2% (n=160) presented with colic/crying and 22.9% (n=121) with a feeding related complaint. The modal length of an episode of care was two weeks. Over the course of treatment, average maternal distress levels reduced by 48%. Mean amount of irritability reduced by 31%; mean restfulness of sleep improved by 27% and mean difficulty to console reduced by 38% in the infant. The median EPDS score dropped by 50% over the time of care. 96.3% of parents rated 8-10 satisfaction with care on a scale of 1-10.
Conclusion: Infants who presented to the chiropractic clinic showed improvement of symptoms by parental report and parents were very satisfied with treatment. Additionally, lowered levels of distress and lowered EPDS scores were reported at the end of treatment. However, this study was not randomized or controlled, so that the therapeutic effect of chiropractic care of the common complaints of infant crying and sleep disorders cannot be generally accepted until higher level studies are done. However, maternal reports of infant health have been found credible.
Author affiliations: JMJ: Private practice, ProChiro Baesweiler, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland; JEM: AECC University College, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
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