A ban on chiropractors manipulating babies' spines has been reinstated.

The Chiropractic Board of Australia has reinstated an interim policy prohibiting chiropractors from performing spinal manipulation on children under two years of age. 

This decision follows a request made at a recent Health Ministers Meeting.

The interim policy, originally introduced in 2019, advised against spinal manipulation for children under 12 years of age while evidence about its safety and effectiveness was gathered. In November 2023, the Board updated its guidelines based on a systematic review by Cochrane Australia, allowing chiropractors to treat children according to current evidence and best-practice approaches. 

However, at the request of Health Ministers, the Board has reinstated the interim policy to allow further consultation.

The Board expects chiropractors to adhere to the interim policy and follow the guidance provided in the 2023 Statement on Paediatric Care and the 2022 Code of Conduct

Chiropractors are expected to recognise that children have significant anatomical, physiological, developmental, and psychological differences from adults, necessitating specific skills and expertise in their healthcare management. 

They must modify care and treatment to suit the age, presentation, and development of the patient, discuss the proposed management plan with the patient and their parent or guardian, and inform them about the evidence, risks, and benefits of the proposed treatment.

The Board says chiropractors must also appropriately document consent, particularly for high-risk procedures, and refer patients when conditions or symptoms fall outside their competence. 

The Australian Chiropractors Association has expressed disappointment with the reinstated ban, noting that spinal manipulation is not the entirety of the treatment offered to young children. 

Association president David Cahill has called the decision a “knee-jerk reaction”, claiming that no evidence of harm to children from chiropractic care has been found in Australia.

The Australian Medical Association and other medical groups have called for more research to establish the effectiveness and safety of chiropractic treatments for children.

Australian Health Ministers are expected to continue to consult with the Chiropractic Board to determine if the interim ban will become a permanent policy.