British Columbia

Probes launched as B.C. chiropractors' college targets misleading claims about childbirth

In the six weeks since the College of Chiropractors of B.C. brought in new rules banning misleading claims about pregnancy and childbirth, just two potential infractions have been identified.

Registrar notes 'some concerns' with marketing for Kelowna clinic offering infant chiropractic care

Chiropractors in B.C. aren't allowed to make claims about things like correcting the position of a fetus in utero, preventing postpartum depression and avoiding premature births or C-sections. (Andrew Shurtleff/AP)

In the six weeks since the College of Chiropractors of B.C. brought in new rules banning misleading claims about pregnancy and childbirth, just two potential infractions have been identified.

Registrar Michelle Da Roza told CBC that both matters are now under investigation by the college's inquiry committee, and the college "continues to proactively monitor registrant digital marketing on a regular basis."

As of Jan. 30, B.C. chiropractors have been barred from making a range of unsupported claims about chiropractic techniques being effective for things like correcting the position of a fetus in utero, preventing postpartum depression and avoiding premature births or C-sections.

The college has developed a piece of software that scans chiropractors' websites for false and misleading claims, and Da Roza said it has yet to identify any problems in relation to the new pregnancy and childbirth rules.

But the college has been alerted to two potential problems outside of that computerized process.

One of those is a press release for a new clinic in Kelowna that promises "holistic" chiropractic care for babies. The promotion for AltaVie says that chiropractors can help infants "heal, grow and thrive."

"Some signs that an infant may need a physical checkup from their chiropractor include postural changes, only wanting to breastfeed from one side, being off-balance or suddenly clumsy, and always tilting their head to one side," the press release says.

B.C. chiropractors are not restricted from providing spinal manipulation treatment to children, after a review found it doesn't pose a significant risk.

But Da Roza said "there appear to be some concerns" with AltaVie's marketing and said the college would conduct a full review and investigation of the clinic's website and other materials.

The college did not provide details of the second possible infraction.

Chiropractor promises to fix issues

The AltaVie clinic is home to two chiropractors, Anna Maria Gierach and Amanda Stevens.

In an email to CBC, Gierach said she would rectify the situation immediately and welcomed the college's review and any suggestions it might bring.

"Our director hired a third-party marketing company for clinic promotion. However, neither myself nor Dr. Stevens were made aware of this or given the opportunity to proof-read before it was published," Gierach said of the press release.

So far, though, it looks like the vast majority of B.C.'s chiropractors are in compliance with the new rules.

That's a stark contrast to 2018, when the college implemented a new efficacy claims policy barring chiropractors from claiming they could treat everything from autism to cancer.

In just two weeks, the college's software identified 250 possible violations of the policy, and 50 investigations were launched.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.