Back in August an eager receptionist at a chiropractor in York handed my a copy of a leaflet entitled ‘Infants & Babies’.
The leaflet contained a statement that “There seems to be no limit to the conditions that can respond to chiropractic care” and then goes on to list a range on childhood conditions that can benefit from a visit to your local chiropractor and includes a list of supporting references.
The list included the usual ones, such as colic, allergies and ear, nose & throat infections, but also included things like projectile vomiting.
As if that wasn’t enough the next page made some totally misleading claims regarding ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and that any child subject to this type of treatment “desperately needs a chiropractic checkup“.
The description given in the leaflet on what constitutes shaken baby syndrome is somewhat different to the general view in this country. Ask practically any member of the public (and I did ask a few before submitting the complaint) what they understand by shaken baby syndrome and the answer given always relates to some form of child abuse.
Having read the leaflet and it’s outrageous claims about the benefits of chiropractic, I submitted a complaint to the ASA. I questioned not only the conditions listed and the shaken baby syndrome claims but also argued that the leaflet discouraged people from seeking correct medical advice/treatment for the conditions.
As far as I’m aware the ASA did not contact the chiropractor who distributed the leaflet, instead they went for the publisher ‘Koren Publications’. Koren publish a range of chiropractic leaflets they call ‘Chiropractic Patient Education Brochures‘. The ‘Infants & Babies’ leaflet is part of their ‘Triune Series’ (which also includes leaflets on allergies & asthma).
Koren responded by trying to defend their claims and sent the ASA information on a number of trials and case studies that they claim demonstrate the efficacy of chiropractic for the conditions listed in the leaflet.
The results of the ASA investigation were put before the ASA Council on 29 Sept 2009. The result was that the complaints were all upheld and that the leaflet breached the CAP codes on the grounds of Substantiation & Truthfulness and also on two points under the regulations covering Health & Beauty products and therapies and that it may encourage parents to use chiropractic as a treatment rather than seeking proper medical advice.
Whilst Koren is a US publisher, they do have UK offices so it is likely that this leaflet is being distributed by a number of chiropractors around the country ( I know of two who stock it) so it is likely that it will be in circulation for a while.
The ASA adjudication can be found here: Koren Publications ASA Adjudication
Korens ‘Infants & Babies’ can be found here (PDF): Infants & Babies (Koren website)
Zeno’s Blog article: The Trouble With Leaflets
It is worth remembering that this complaint is just one of a number that have been dealt with by the ASA covering chiropractic advertising, including the GCC’s own Patient Information Leaflet. The complaints all focus on chiropractors making very similar claims about childhood conditions. Thus far the evidence put forward by the chiropractic industry has failed to convince the ASA that it is sufficient to support the claims.
These claims that fail on grounds of Truthfulness and Substantiation are the same ones being put forward on chiropractors websites around the country and that Trading Standards say are ‘open to interpretation‘ or that the ‘evidence is inconclusive‘.