Infant dies after craniosacral “therapy”

Craniosacral “therapy” (chiropractic) is another one of those pseudoscientific disciplines marketed to the gullible that claims cures for just about every ailment under the sun. How does it supposedly work? According to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America:

… [A]ll healthy, living tissues subtly “breathe” with the motion of life – a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated by sensitive hands. The presence of these subtle rhythms in the body was discovered by osteopath Dr William Sutherland over 100 years ago, after he had a remarkable insight … that cranial sutures were, in fact, designed to express small degrees of motion. He … eventually concluded it is essentially produced by the body’s inherent life force, which he referred to as the “Breath of Life.” Furthermore, … the motion of cranial bones he first discovered is closely connected to subtle movements that involve a network of interrelated tissues and fluids at the core of the body; including cerebrospinal fluid (the ‘sap in the tree’), the central nervous system, the membranes that surround the central nervous system and the sacrum.

Gobbledygook to English translation: disease can be treated by manipulating bones. That’s obviously ludicrous, but what’s the harm? Plenty as it turns out.

The Dutch Medical Journal reported on a case of infant death at craniosacral therapy.

Patient A was a three-month-old, healthy girl. Because their child exhibited mild motor unrest, the parents contacted a so-called “craniosacral” therapist who, after a short introductory interview, started administering the craniosacral therapy. He placed the child on her back on a changing mat, after which he palpated the neck and the skull. The patient cried vehemently at this. Then she was turned to her right side and a deep bending of the vertebral column was applied at which the chin touched the chest…


After the vertebral column was bent deeply in this manner during several minutes, the child lost faeces and several loud intakes of breath were clearly audible. The therapist interpreted this as a deep sleep, which he said was normal during the treatment. After about 10 minutes the girl was placed on her back and blue discolouration of the lips was apparent. The child was limp now and did not react to touching. The father started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Alerted ambulance personnel on arrival saw a deceased infant with asystolia…

The infant was resuscitated but removed from life support 12 hours later after testing revealed catastrophic brain injury.

A brief review of the literature reveals that this is not the first such tragedy. According to Adverse Events Associated With Pediatric Spinal Manipulation: A Systematic Review published in the journal Pediatrics, there have been at least two other infant catastrophic injures, a 3 month old boy who died as a result of a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, and a 4 month old boy render quadriplegic after treatment for what turned out to be a spinal tumor.

It seems obvious to me, looking at the picture above, that craniosacral “therapy” cannot possibly be therapeutic and has tremendous potential to create catastrophic injuries. Parents should be very wary of practitioners offering to bend an infant’s spine as a form of therapy. Not only is craniosacral “therapy” absurd; it can kill.