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Chiropractic Controversy in a Growing Childhood Market

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Referring to the ICPA's vaccination policy statement, Pistolese says that the loss or damage of some children's lives from vaccinations is not an acceptable risk to the ICPA. "We therefore do not support the concept of mandatory vaccination, regardless of risk. The ICPA fully supports the right to informed consent and the right of each parent to choose the type of health care that is best for their child," says Pistolese.

In contrast, various government and medical associations -- such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians -- recommend most, if not all, children be vaccinated.

James Campbell, PhD, of the University of Toronto, tells WebMD there are risks with vaccinations, but argues, "These are risks that as a population we have to take, basically for the good of the whole rather than the good of the individual."

Campbell is concerned about the small number of chiropractors who are against vaccinations, called anti-vaccinationists. "There is a [tendency] among anti-vaccinationists to focus on the negative side [of vaccination] and forget all the positive sides," says Campbell. He also questions the sources some chiropractors use: "There are a number of publications that a lot of chiropractors have adopted to support their anti-vaccination attitudes that are full of erroneous information."

The history of why some chiropractors don't believe in vaccinations is a complicated one, filled with in-fighting that has left the profession divided to this day, according to Campbell, who wrote about the history in an article published in the journal Pediatrics.

Daniel D. Palmer, the original founder of chiropractic care in the late 1800s, believed that 95% of disease was the result of pinched nerves due to the spine being out of alignment. Properly aligning the backbone would result in a healthy body and a "cure" of disease, he believed.

Years later, around the same time the germ theory of disease was gaining acceptance, Palmer's son, BJ, was fostering the growth of the chiropractic profession. Like his father, BJ thought pinched spinal nerves, and not germs, caused infectious disease. Drugs and vaccines were viewed as poisons that interfered with the body's natural healing process. These beliefs earned chiropractors the hostility of the mainstream medical community.

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