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…

image

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.

153 Responses to “Infant dies after craniosacral “therapy””

  1. Amanda Webb
    October 6, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    And of course no children have ever died as the result of medical negligence in mainstream medicine. Its the hypocrisy that pisses me off. In addition this is nothing like any cariosacral session I have had …also biodynamic cranial sacral therapy which i have isn’t practiced on babies. How much more could this guy have gotten wrong? Just proves that just because you write it with a fancy blog name doesn’t make you right!

  2. trisul
    May 3, 2016 at 6:40 am #

    In any case a terrible thing to happen. What is pictured and described is nothing like Craniosacral therapy. I have no idea what that therapist was actually doing and the article does not help, calling it “chiropractic” which is a radically different technique, both in theory and in practice. Many comments mention osteopathy, which is a related field, but Craniosacral therapy is even less invasive and very gentle.

    It seems to me unjustifiable to make such sweeping statements, based on such an incident and such obvious misinformation. After all, an estimated 200,000 people die of medical errors in the US, but no one thinks that this warrants dismissing the entire field of medicine, even though each of these deaths is a tragedy in itself, and an error my medical staff.

    • nikkilee
      August 31, 2016 at 7:48 am #

      Accurate reply.

      • fiftyfifty1
        August 31, 2016 at 9:22 am #

        It’s true that people die of medical errors every day. So when somebody dies of Craniosacral therapy, is that any different? It is, and here’s why:

        When somebody dies of a medical error, they were sick to begin with, usually very sick. If an old lady is hospitalized for heart failure and she falls out of bed and dies, that is counted as a medical error death. If a grandfather with emphysema develops pneumonia and receives a new antibiotic and has a fatal allergic reaction to it, that’s counted as a medical error. If a young man has glioblastoma and the neurosurgeon nicks an artery during a 10 hour surgery, that’s counted as a medical error. And all these deaths should be counted. Because you can’t improve until you track what went wrong. At the same time, every one of these patients also would have died without medical care. That’s why nobody is dismissing the entire field of medicine.

        Contrast that with craniosacral therapy. Craniosacral therapy is total quack. It saves nobody ever. So when it kills someone, especially a perfectly healthy infant, people get outraged.

  3. sdsures
    August 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    LOL!

  4. sdsures
    August 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    My husband’s a coder, and went through a similar experience with a potential client. IIRC, he turned them down.

  5. sdsures
    August 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    One of the first things my osteopath did before even touching me was explain what all the different things were: CST versus chiropractic, vs osteopathy, so that reassured us that we had hired him for the right reasons: we (hubby and I) both have chronic muscular pain, for which fascial massage and release (but no manipulation for me) was the right thing to do. More info here: http://www.stephaniebriggs.co.uk/thoughts-on-craniosacral-therapy-and-osteopathy

    Unfortunately, he moved away, and we haven’t found a replacement yet. The ostepath moved away, that is, not my husband. ^_^

  6. David
    August 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I appreciate your concern for your patients, although osteopathy in the cranial field can be highly effective when performed by trained physicians here in the states. Actually bending a child is not something that would ever be done, and thus the risk people take when not going to a qualified professional. You can always find a competent physician by going to the http://www.cranialacademy.com

    You incorrectly stated that “disease can [not] be treated by manipulating bones.” There is plenty of peer reviewed articles supporting the efficacy of osteopathic manipulation, OSTMED.DR which is a digital library of Osteopathic research from the past 100+ years: Osteopathic Research Center, and pubmed.

    For example, Infantile Colic is quite often caused by excessive pressure to the infant’s occiput at birth. The newborn’s occipital bone, located in the
    back of the head, is composed of 4 parts. By the age of seven these 4
    parts fuse to become a single bone. Important cranial nerves lie next to these parts, and the spinal cord passes between these parts through the foramen magnum (a “large hole”).

    As the infant emerges into the world, the head (passing through the
    bony pelvis) must flex, rotate, and extend. This unfused occiput is
    normally the “presenting” part and receives a complex array of forces.
    The 4 parts of the occiput may become twisted and compressed, causing
    irritation of the cranial nerves, and sometimes even irritating the
    spinal cord. Impaired sucking, gastric irritability, and altered
    muscular tone may result.

    Gentle movement is possible and has shown effectiveness in removing these restrictions.

    • demodocus
      August 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

      Colic is caused by their brains being slightly squished? Doesn’t it not show up for a few weeks and go away on its own in a few months? Also, this implies that the rate of colic would be significantly less in infants born by C-section than by vaginal birth. One more thing, telling us about babies’ unfused skull bones is rather like telling your grandmother how to diaper a baby. Its fairly common knowledge; I learned about it in middle school.

      • sdsures
        August 23, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

        If your first statement is true, then everyone who has hydrocephalus (like me) must be chronically colicky, even into adulthood. No wonder I get grouchy when I have migraines. I’ colicky! 😛

      • sdsures
        August 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

        See my post aobut osteopathy and hydrocephalus here, @disqus_Wzmp9RW4mZ:disqus. My registered and certified osteopath was smart enough not to try anything extreme on me because we gave him y complete medical history. http://www.stephaniebriggs.co.uk/thoughts-on-craniosacral-therapy-and-osteopathy

        • demodocus
          August 25, 2015 at 7:32 am #

          huh? I don’t think head massages cure colic. My first “statement” was an ironic question and since I don’t have any proof that there’s no difference in colic between babies born from different methods I chose not to include a definitive statement. Me knows next to nuffink, and me knows me knows next to nuffink.
          Weren’t you joining me in sarcasm below?

          • sdsures
            August 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

            “Weren’t you joining me in sarcasm below?”

            Yes, I was.

          • demodocus
            August 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

            Cool. 🙂 I’m particularly slow today

          • sdsures
            August 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

            I get like that until I have coffee.

    • Daleth
      August 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Uh, is there something different about trained chiropractors here in the States, compared to trained chiropractors in the Netherlands? Something that makes the American practitioners incapable of accidentally killing an infant? If so, please explain precisely what that is.

    • Dr Kitty
      August 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

      Infantile colic is a name for a transient neuro-developmental stage characterised by crying which the parents feel is excessive, and which causes the parents more distress and damage than the infants.
      It is self resolving.
      These infants are thriving and well…they just cry a lot and make everyone else miserable for 3-6 months.
      By definition, if they aren’t thriving and well, and it doesn’t resolve, it isn’t colic.

      The proposed aetiology of compression and “irritation” of CN 9-12 doesn’t actually make any sense, either physiologically or anatomically, and doesn’t explain the universal resolution within a well-defined timeframe.

    • sdsures
      August 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      For a few months last year, I received massage therapy for my migraines, weekly, from a trained and registered UK osteopath. He was given a detailed medical history, which included my cerebral palsy (spastic) and hydrocephalus (2 shunts in situ). My husband got massages for his hypermobility and fibromyalgia. Hubby was also able to be given certain types of manipulations, which seemed to help and that hubby thought would be safe and useful for him. Both of us are VERY anti-woo, BTW.

      He did NOT do any manipulations on me precisely because of the hydrocephalus, and completely agreed that it was ludicrous and extremely dangerous to do so (anyone who has neurological/neurosurgical stuff in their medical histories should think VERY carefully before consenting to any kind of chiropractic manipulations, because given the right set of circumstances, they can kill you. Case in point: Since I have shunts in place, no manipulations for me, ever.).

      He did, however, do occipital release on me, which involves gentle but firm pressure applied at the base of the skull, with the aim of drawing apart those VERY tense muscle fibers with your fingers. I can do it on myself sitting up, but it was more effective when applied with me laying on my stomach. He also worked extensively on my back an neck muscles, because they are a very common source of tension, which can in turn cause migraines.

      Later on, when I began receiving Botox for migraines on the NHS, we learned that some of the injection sites are the back of the neck, the trapezius (shoulder muscles), and the base of the skull – all of which are the same areas of muscles that massage targets.

    • David
      August 24, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

      I think my point was missed. This one isolated case does not appear to be a problem with CST, rather it was the person who clearly did not have the appropriate rigorous medical and CLINICAL training. Just because one negligent person made poor decisions does not mean that the work is ineffective. This is like saying having a bad date with a woman means all women are bad.

      To be explicitly clear, I was speaking towards physicians in the United States, which are either MD’s or a DO’s. Chiropractors are not physicians. There are a handful of dual board certified physicians who effectively utilize osteopathy in the cranial field, and to my knowledge haven’t had any documented deaths. This also includes osteopaths oveseas as well. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

      I too am a skeptic at heart for evidence based medicine. When Louis Pasteur first started working on vaccinations, did people believe him initially? Of course not. This is no different from osteopathy in the cranial field, as there is recent compelling published research speaking towards its efficacy.

      I would run away from any medical professional that can guarantee an outcome, and would only trust a dual board certified NMM/OMM DO or overseas osteopath with my infant. The risks are low with these providers and the potential for benefit is high. Originally Dr. Amy asked for journal articles supporting the efficacy, as her initial statement is inaccurate that “disease can [not] be treated by manipulating bones.” I have included articles for reference that relate to infants / children, there are many other articles that relate to different patient populations. All of these studies are publicly available to read.

      Otitis Media – Mills MV et al (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2003)
      Conclusion: did a randomized trial, showing OMT led to fewer and less severe ear infections in children. The results of this study suggest a potential benefit of osteopathic manipulative treatment as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent AOM; it may prevent or decrease surgical intervention or antibiotic overuse.

      Pregnancy – Do placebo effects associated with sham osteopathic procedure occur in newborns? Results of a randomized controlled trial.
      Conclusion: This study is the first in the field showing no placebo effect on newborns.

      Infants- Effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment on length of stay in a population of preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial.
      Conclusion: The present study suggests that OMT may have an important role in the management of preterm infants hospitalization.

      plagiocephaly-Exploring the impact of osteopathic treatment on cranial asymmetries associated with nonsynostotic plagiocephaly in infants.
      Conclusion: osteopathic treatments contribute to the improvement of cranial asymmetries in infants younger than 6.5 months old presenting with NSOP characteristics.

      plagiocephaly- Infantile postural asymmetry and osteopathic treatment: a randomized therapeutic trial.
      Conclusion: We conclude that osteopathic treatment in the first months of life improves the degree of asymmetry in infants with postural asymmetry.

      Infant Colic -Hayden C, Mullinger B. A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic [published online ahead of print February 8,2006]. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006;12:83-90
      Conclusion: did a controlled, prospective study to show that OMT improved infantile colic.

      • Young CC Prof
        August 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

        Osteopathy has been around for more than a century, and the best evidence of effectiveness you can offer are these hints, nothing game-changing. I’ve read some of those, and they are really underwhelming. Might help with colic? Colic is self-limiting, as is mild plagiocephaly and many ear infections.

        If a therapy has even a small chance of causing death, it’d better have much stronger evidence of benefit.

        • David
          August 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

          Please provide evidence of known deaths related to osteopathy in the cranial field directly caused by osteopaths or DO’s who are dually board certified in NMM/OMM.

          Otherwise, your comments are ill informed and are actually spreading incorrect unsubstantiated propaganda, helping to persuade a naive public from getting treatments from qualified practitioners.

          • sdsures
            August 24, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

            She doesn’t need to, David. That information can be found in any standard hospital consent form for an equivalent therapy.

  7. vforba
    September 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Just by reading this post whatever this so-called person did to this so-called baby. I would say is nothing even close to CST. My fourth child was born with Bells Palsy and my dr. told me to sit around and wait! Well I was stupid and listened to them because they told me it was going to go away on it’s own. I say around and waiting for 7 months.Well it didn’t it just got progressively worse and if it hadn’t been for my sister in law who going to college to become a chiro I never would have known what to do for it! So when I was recommended to take in her to someone who specialized is CST I did finally listen and take her. Her adjustments were gentle like a massage. You could barely tell that she touched her. I always held her on my chest and there was no severe pressure ever applied. Within in 2wks time her booger/snotty blocked tear ducts were gone! She started talking. She started being able to swallow food. And after 6mos. of treatment she was able to smile and not look like half of her mouth didn’t function. Now she’s a bright happy 8 year old with no mouth issues. I am so glad I went and had it taken care of. If I had continued to wait she would have had a paralized mouth.

    • Rob
      September 26, 2015 at 12:38 am #

      How do you know? Maybe it just cleared up like the doctor said it would.

      Someone recently recommended that I take my 5 week old son for this cranial sacral therapy and I’m skeptical. Apparently he might have some bite reflex problem which is making him tense but I am having a hard time understanding how this treatment will actually help him. The fact that they want to treat him without anything more than a guess for a diagnosis makes me more skeptical.

      There seems to be no shortage of “medical professionals” waiting to separate me from my money by exploiting my son’s crying. I wish we paid for results instead of services. I know that nobody can guarantee results 100% but I would settle for a high degree of certainty.

      Nobody even records the results of medical procedures in America so there is no reliable data. I only have common sense and my own experiences to help me decide what’s best for my kid.

      The results I have had with chiros, osteopaths and acupuncturists have been similar to the results I got from snake charmers, faith healers and doing nothing at all. They all promise a lot and tell a good story but rarely deliver.

      I have seen chiropractors here in America and when I lived in Europe. I see no difference in the level of professionalism. Americans love to believe that their doctors are superior to those in any other country but this simply isn’t the case. Our healthcare system is inferior to almost every one of our peers and is ten times more expensive. The American healthcare system is an abomination and nothing to be proud of. I would much rather be treated in Holland or the UK.

      The problem in America is that healthcare professionals are heavily incentivized to perform unnecessary or ineffective treatments but not to do a good job. They get paid regardless of the results so more procedures equals more money. There is no need to record info on any problems they cause because they have no need to improve. We have no idea how many problems this treatment has caused here because the people with that information are financially incentivized to keep it a secret.

      Doctors who talk about the success rate of their procedures here are almost always lying because none of them ever follow up with their patients to find out. Their definitions of success differ from everyone else’s too…

      • vforba
        September 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

        Because after 7mos there was no improvement from doing nothing she progressively got worse. Nothing changed until we started treatment. There are different levels and qualities of chiropractors. I have several good friends who are chiros who specifically treat scoliosis and have been very successful in their treatment protocol. If people are serious about getting treatment they will go to no end to find the right treatment for it.

        And yes there are a lot of bad drs but there are a lot of good drs as well. It’s just hard to find good ones.

        How do you know it’s only a guess. I have worked with some very highly intelligent and dedicated chiros. They are very knowledgeable about their job. The problem is that you want a magic pill to fix it. There are many things that are not explained to us properly so we can understand how things work. More than likely the massage will help to release tensions and help align parts in the base of the skull which create this problem to begin with. By releasing and realigning these pieces it will help your child to develop and function normally.

  8. Noeakii
    September 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Dear Amy. In your article, it is clear that you have no dicernment to be able to tell the difference between “one pseudo scientific discipline” and the next. However you are flamboyantly ready to make personal claims based on your lack of knowledge. I get that what happened is terrible but scrambling the words: Craniosacral therapy and chiropractic, to then pull a rabbit out of a hat shows that your skepticism is nothing but ignorance. I would suggest you get informed at least enough as to tell the difference and then proceed to verify sources. As it stands now- your piece is laughable.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      September 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

      Your defending quackery because that’s how you make money.

    • Stacy48918
      September 6, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      “I would suggest you get informed at least enough as to tell the difference and then proceed to verify sources.”
      Enlighten us then. If you know so much it should be easy to provide article after article after article from major peer reviewed publications to back up your statements. We’re waiting.

      • S
        September 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

        I haven’t reread this post since it was originally posted, but craniosacral therapy involves barely touching the recipient:

        “Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.”

        http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=61

        (Craniosacral therapists get their certification through the Upledger Institute.)

        It’s not the same as chiropractic, and it would be impossible to directly kill someone with this technique since it pretty much just involves laying your hands on a person, purportedly to adjust the motion of their cerebrospinal fluid. Please don’t hold it against me that i know this. =(

        • S
          September 6, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

          For some reason Dr. Amy has refused to correct her terminology, which results in all these CST apologists confusing the issue with their righteous indignation. You could write an entire post or more on how stupid CST is, but it’s not dangerous.

          What this post does illustrate is that infant _chiropractic_ is a horrible, dangerous idea.

          Is that clearer, Noeakki?

          • vforba
            September 27, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

            You’re the only one who is stupid here. Infant chiropractic serves many very useful purposes if done correctly so does CST. Just because you are uneducated or have seen it used properly doesn’t not mean it doesn’t work

          • PrimaryCareDoc
            September 27, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

            Infant chiro serves no useful purpose, except to line the wallets of chiropractors.

          • vforba
            September 28, 2015 at 8:41 am #

            It helps with colic, it helps with latching issues when breastfeeding. The spinal cord is the lifeline of the body if it isn’t working correctly nothing is going to work correctly

          • PrimaryCareDoc
            September 28, 2015 at 8:59 am #

            Citation needed.

        • Rob
          September 26, 2015 at 12:50 am #

          How is the “improvement in functioning of the central nervous system” measured?

          Is it even possible to have a lasting impact on the central nervous system with such a light touch? 5g of pressure is barely noticeable isn’t it?

          Isn’t spinal fluid stored under all of the vertebrae and discs? How does a light touch adjust the motion? In what way do they change the motion? What would be an example of a spinal fluid motion problem and how does the change help to fix it?

          I am most interested in how these issues are diagnosed because my 5 week old son (who I’m doing the research for) can’t tell me what’s wrong…

          • Nick Sanders
            September 26, 2015 at 3:55 am #

            How is the “improvement in functioning of the central nervous system” measured?

            It’s not.

            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Craniosacral_therapy

          • Rob
            September 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

            Thanks for the link. I suspected that it was nonsense. The practitioner trying to sell us the treatment was incredibly vague about the benefits she claims to be able to deliver or the problems she would treat. I promised my wife that I’d keep an open mind and research it but I can’t find anything specific on what they actually do.

            It wouldn’t be covered by our insurance either and it wouldn’t be the first time that someone has recommended an expensive treatment that delivered no benefit to our son. Cars get treated better than people these days. We would never pay a mechanic for a service that failed to fix our cars. We would consider such a mechanic to be a fraudster.

          • vforba
            September 27, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

            It’s not nonsense. when my daughter went from having a partially paralyzed mouth to being fully functional over a 6month treatment period that is not nonsense. Not everything can be measured. Just as said yourself. You can’t measure your own child’s problem because they can’t tell you. So how then do you plan on measuring the problem or improvement? Can a regular dr measure it?

            You just don’t want to believe something works if it isn’t a traditional dr doing it to your child. Good luck with that. But be prepared to have major intervention and pain.

          • PrimaryCareDoc
            September 27, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

            What was the cause of the paralysis? I’m guessing it got better on its own. Six months is about the right time frame for a nerve injury to heal.

          • vforba
            September 27, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

            She was born with Bell’s Palsy, and she was 7mos old when we started treatment. She was not getting any better it took months of treatment to even see improvement. Her face was losing more and more movement and becoming tighter. Trust me this wasn’t going to heal on it’s own.

          • PrimaryCareDoc
            September 27, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

            Most congenital Bell’s Palsy is due to birth trauma, and most resolves spontaneously.

            I’ll tell you this much- the CST had nothing to do with it. Because it’s bullshit. There is no physiologic basis for it.

    • sdsures
      August 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Breaking a baby’s neck isn’t serious enough for you?

  9. Sarah Duke
    August 25, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    How do you feel about vacuum extraction then since it is incredibly harmful to the cranium of a child resulting in far more than just 3 infant deaths and sever debilitations since its inception? Is that also pseudoscience because it is still used in hospitals today during delivery? Since so many babies have died from this the hospitals are only just now starting to reevaluate this method as viable. Forceps have also decapitated more than 3 infants since its inception. Don’t even get me started on the debilitating conditions that vaccines have caused, but the motto is the risks outweigh the benefits. If your child happens to be in the 5% that dies from them, then you are just taking one for the team. In the medical community, 3 deaths is acceptable in the name of science and are actually really amazing odds, so why is that not acceptable in the natural science community. These children obviously had underlying conditions that were not properly evaluated before the therapy was administered, so the fault lies on the practitioner, not the entirety of the natural science community. I have a feeling that your bias against natural methodology far outweighs your scientific evidence against it.

    • Elizabeth A
      August 25, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      How do I feel about vacuum extraction and forceps?

      My son was delivered by vacuum because I’d been pushing for five and a half hours. My son’s head was visible at the outlet of the birth canal (and had been for quite some time), which meant that if I had a c-section, the doctors would have to pull him back into the uterus to complete the delivery – a procedure which also risks physical injury to the baby, but which we agreed would be the next step if vacuum extraction failed. Doing nothing was not an option – I was running a fever, and running on empty. Medically, the baby needed to be delivered in the next short while. Because of the risks of using vacuum (injury to me or the baby, hemorrhage, oxygen deprivation), pediatric nursing and physician teams were brought into the room to take care of the baby immediately after delivery, and another set of doctors and nurses was brought in to care for me.

      This is the kind of situation in which OBs typically get out the instruments. Sometimes doing nothing is not acceptable, and instrumental delivery is the best option. They should be calling in resources to make the situation as safe as possible and proceeding on the safest bad road.

      In contrast with that situation, we have the situation above, where parents sought a chiropractor’s help for “mild motor unrest” in their baby. I have no idea what mild motor unrest is. It’s possible that it’s entirely normal infant behavior, like myoclonic jerks.

      In response to what may have been a perfectly normal infant having no problems at all, the chiropractor forced the infant’s chin to her chest, breaking her neck.

      So in one situation (instrumental delivery) we have:
      1. A tool used in response to a problem,
      2. That has actually been demonstrated to be able to solve the problem,

      3. In a situation where that tool is the least risky option, and

      4. Steps are taken to mitigate risk.

      In the other we have:
      1. A reported symptom that may not actually be a problem,
      2. That is addressed using a technique that has no relation to the problem,
      3. Which carries risks of injury to the patient, and

      4. Risks are not mitigated, and

      5. Obvious signs of injury (“lost feces”) are ignored, and described to observers as normal.

      There are some terrible misuses of forceps and vacuum, and I hope that every single one of those hits the newspapers, that the doctors involved face career-ending consequences. However, the tools themselves are not the problem.

    • PrimaryCareDoc
      September 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      5% of children die from vaccines? that would mean that 1,150,000 kids a year die from vaccines. This would mean that in my elementary school class of 400 children, 20 of them died from vaccines.

      This is literally one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

      • Young CC Prof
        September 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

        Sarah Duke has no idea how much 5% is, it just sounds like a small number to her. She has no idea that the total rate of infant and childhood death in a typical first-world country is around 1%.

  10. Laura
    February 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Craniosacral Therapy is not anything near chiropractic. But it does not sound like this person was practicing chiropractic adjustments either, and we have no way of knowing. (Where are your citations and the original source of this article?) I think you might agree with me that if a few doctors are called out for practicing bad medicine it does not mean that there are not amazing doctors out there doing good things for patients every day. Your blanket judgement seems irrational at best.

    There is research showing Craniosacral Therapy’s efficacy, but it sounds like your mind is already made up based on only negative statements. While I agree that some amount of skepticism is healthy, why not simply keep an open mind, do some research and find out for yourself?

    Craniosacral Therapy, if practiced correctly, uses a very light (5 grams) of pressure, far less than what might injure a person or an infant, and certainly far less than what seems to have been used in the case you cited – and that is only IF this person was indeed practicing craniosacral therapy. Again, we have no way of fact checking.

    Here is a study showing that this 5 grams of pressure can subtly effect change in the craniosacral membranes:
    http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/1302656/reload=0;jsessionid=jpNdVPu7WRpR9UyYhpCa.10

    I have personally benefitted tremendously from Craniosacral Therapy, and know others who have, too. I have been treated by MD’s, Physical Therapists, and Massage Therapists, and they all have been highly trained professionals who seemed to make a positive difference in their patient’s lives. That is good enough for me, and I hope and believe that the research will continue to grow to such an extent that it reflects my experience as scientific fact.

  11. Greg
    February 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    Craniosacral therapy is not a chiropractic technique. It is incorrect, if not irresponsible, for the author to state “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.” Furthermore, it is outrageous to imply that chiropractic had anything to do with this tragic loss of life.

    As a matter of fact, the developer of CST is an osteopathic physician (D.O.) as I learned during a simple google search, the result of which I linked below. I don’t believe my D.O. colleagues would react too kindly to Dr. Tuteur had she insinuated that osteopathic medicine is a pseudoscience, or an art reserved for the gullible, or inexplicably linked to this horrible death.

    http://www.iahe.com/html/therapies/cst.php

    • MLE
      February 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

      You really picked the wrong week for this.

  12. kurios kitty
    January 12, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Dont believe everything you read,p

  13. kurios kitty
    January 12, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    Well said without being negative

  14. kurios kitty
    January 12, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    Wow..

  15. Nicole Reeder
    September 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Craniosacral therapy does not involve anything like what is described above; it involves very light touch (approx. the weight of a nickel), and if done correctly should never result in injury or harm. So what you’re describing as Craniosacral therapy is not that at all (I don’t know what it is, but it’s not CST). Research what it really is. It makes sense and it works.

    • araikwao
      September 21, 2013 at 12:47 am #

      It lacks biological plausibility, for one thing. And the body of quality evidence for its effectiveness is where, sorry??

      • araikwao
        September 21, 2013 at 2:16 am #

        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cranial-manipulation-and-tooth-fairy-science/
        See above for an excellent rundown

      • kurios kitty
        January 12, 2014 at 1:08 am #

        Nature..we have become so far detached from basic rules of nature, that even dr.’s, who are too proud to admit their colleagues and themselves have made mistakes or even engaged in multitude incidents of malpractices, that we are in denial of what is right in front of us. Our earliest ancestors even understood that the mind body and soul need to be in sync in order to carry on as it should, harmonious vibrations =good membrane energy..

        • araikwao
          January 12, 2014 at 3:29 am #

          If you check your comment against yourlogicalfallacyis.com , I think you’ll find “appeal to antiquity” and “appeal to nature” among them. Also, what are “harmonious vibrations”, and “good membrane energy”? Is that just the usual -70mV resting potential you’re referring to?

          • Susan
            January 12, 2014 at 3:56 am #

            Those fall under “appeal to unicorns”

  16. Nicole Smoot Tengwall
    September 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    So let’s talk about your logic…ONE baby dies from so-called CranioSacral Therapy (I say so-called because it doesn’t sound like any type of CranioSacral Therapy I know and I’ve done extensive training in working with newborns!) and because of that, ALL CranioSacral Therapy is bad and quackery???

    So what about the thousands of babies that die every year because of mistakes that OBs make during deliveries (like giving Cytotec to moms who’s uteruses then rupture and kill the baby and sometimes the mom too). Or OBs who “pit to distress” on purpose so they can perform a c-section instead of allowing the mom to labor in her own time.

    According to your logic, NO ONE should then be going to an OB since they kill a lot more babies than CranioSacral therapy does….like THOUSANDS more!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      September 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      and because of that, ALL CranioSacral Therapy is bad and quackery???

      No, craniosacral therapy is bad and quackery on its own. That it also kills just turns shows that it is not harmless quackery.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      September 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Let’s talk about your logic (or lack thereof). You believe in quackery like cranio-sacral therapy? Why?

      Why on earth would any baby be born needed adjustment of its spine?

      Please explain the biochemical mechanism of how CST “works.”

      CST is the medical equivalent of astrology. Do you waste your money on astrologists, too?

      I read the Baby Center thread where a bunch of Einsteins are discussing CST and whining that no one should listen to me because I’m mean or crazy or something. But not a single genius on the thread can explain how or why CST works. They just mindlessly waste their money on it and preen to each other about their witless beliefs.

      • mary
        October 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

        witless beliefs? amy, let’s talk witless. . .you are the pot calling the kettle black. you are an MD. good for you, big deal, i am not impressed. get off your high horse and let’s be factual. as an MD, each and every one of you follow the same training. scores upon scores of memorization of information which perhaps 20% at best is utilized. you then specialize. 90% of what you learn about your specialization comes from equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

        you allow yourself to be trained like pavlo’s dogs to follow orders and not think, let alone to think out of the box. your perpetual fear of litigation drives your every decision; you, are a puppet. hospitals now dictate you to see patient after patient so that you barely know your patients name let alone their history.

        most of the clinical studies you blindly stand behind are misleading and biased. they are sponsored by the very pharmaceutical companies who are hawking the poisons in question. They often report only “positive” finding and leave out non or negative findings.

        if allopathic medicine is so great, why is it the 3rd leading cause of death in the US?

        • 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgery

        • 7000 deaths per year due to medication errors in hospitals

        • 20,000 deaths per year due to other errors in hospitals

        • 80,000 deaths per year due to infections in hospitals

        • 106,000 deaths per year due to negative effects of drugs

        amy, you my dear are an idiot.

      • kurios kitty
        January 12, 2014 at 1:24 am #

        Why should i believe in my surgeon or MD? they may be smart, have photographic memories, the fastest prescription signatures in the west, scientific logic, unsurpassed hypothetical reasoning etc., yet, they still cant figure out how people die and come back to life, or stay in a coma for 15 yrs and come back or find a cancer patient that survives a stage 4 or 5 diagnosis etc..some things are just invisible to the eye, but subconsciously visible to the soul..high vibrations, good energy, lots of faith, hope and love combined with natural compounds is sometime all you need.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      September 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Please provide some documentation that “thousands of babies” die every year from obstetrical interventions. Most babies die who die each year and most premature or have congenital anomalies. Very, very few nonanomalous term babies die in the hospital each year, so stop spreading ridiculous misinformation.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        September 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        Considering that there are something like 11000 babies who die in childbirth in the US each year, if thousands are dying from OB intervention, that would suggest that between 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 would be due to that.

        Yet, when challenged on it, most people can’t even come up with a single example that they know of, even among their friends on the internet.

        Yet, when it comes to homebirth deaths that are result of MW incompetence, there are dozens reported here each year.

        If deaths DUE TO OB intervention were so common, it should be trivial to find lots of examples. But alas, at best, if we put our collective heads together, we might be able to come up with … one.

        It’s bullshit.

    • Captain Obvious
      October 10, 2013 at 12:13 am #

      Lets first get out of the 1990s when consumer pressure allowed ACOG to push TOLAC. Now we are well aware of th risks of uterine rupture with inducing agents and can educate women of those risks. We don’t see inducing TOLAC much any more. When does home birth and quackery like CS therapy realize what they are doing is causing deaths and refrain from continuing their unethical practices. Seems MDs learn from their mistakes, but quackery doesn’t.

  17. Shawna
    August 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Jeez! If this is actually true, the practitioner CLEARLY did something wrong and was not attuned to the baby AT ALL. Craniosacral therapy is NOT a form of chiropractic, and when done properly, uses less than a nickel’s weight in pressure to monitor the movement of cerebrospinal fluid as it moves around the brain and spinal cord. This attunement can release tension from the membranes and connective tissue that can restrict movement and hold cranial bones in unfavorable positions. I hope anyone that reads this article will at least continue their research elsewhere and realize there are thousands of babies helped by CST every year. And of course, screening the practitioner in advance is a good idea…find someone with plenty of experience!

  18. To each their own
    March 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Wow, you are quite bitter and negative. It makes me questions why. As a healthcare provider, you should be objective. All this ranting about C-sections being better (bucthering mothers and their babies), and the debate on whether homebirth (undisturbed birth) is even safe, makes you seem pretty scary. Your negative attitude is not what expecting and new mothers need.

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