Chiropractors making misleading claims about pregnancy and birth targeted by B.C. regulator
College gives Jan. 30 deadline to clean up statements about breech births, depression and other conditions
B.C. chiropractors who make misleading claims about helping pregnant women give birth more comfortably or avoid postpartum depression have a little more than a month to scrub their websites.
The College of Chiropractors of B.C. said Monday it's giving all practitioners until Jan. 30 to clean up their marketing to keep it in line with updated policies about pregnancy-related conditions and labour, or face investigation and possible discipline.
A public notice posted on the college website says it "has become concerned with statements made by some registrants which suggest that chiropractic care has the ability to turn a breech baby in utero and promote easier birth experiences. These claims are not well supported by evidence and are therefore misleading to the public."
In a handful of websites reviewed by CBC, some chiropractors make claims about helping "decrease pain in pregnancy and labour" or providing treatment that "allows the baby to get in the best possible position in utero."
Under the college's revised efficacy claims policy, B.C. chiropractors will no longer be permitted to say:
- They can help move a fetus out of the breech position.
- They can give a fetus more room to develop in the uterus.
- Chiropractic treatment during pregnancy will produce a healthier baby.
- They can help pregnant women avoid birth by caesarean section or extraction using forceps or suction.
- The chiropractic treatment can prevent a difficult labour or traumatic birth experience.
- Birth is inherently traumatic to babies and/or requires chiropractic treatment to correct.
- Chiropractic treatment can help regulate a woman's hormones or reduce her risk of postpartum depression.
College trying to be 'more proactive'
College registrar Michelle Da Roza told CBC the updated policy was not prompted by complaints from the public.
"The [college] is working to be a more proactive regulator and wanted to address its own concerns," Da Roza said in an email.
The college's notice specifically targets marketing of the Webster Technique, a treatment of the pelvis and lower spine that is often promoted to pregnant women as a method of ensuring a more comfortable birth.
The college says it has updated the chiropractors' professional conduct handbook to make it clear the Webster Technique can only be advertised as "a specific chiropractic sacral analysis and diversified adjustment for all weight-bearing individuals."
The changes come a little more than a year after the college first introduced the efficacy claims policy, which set out a long list of conditions that chiropractors cannot claim to treat, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, infections, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
As part of the effort to crack down on those misleading claims, the college developed software that can scan chiropractors' websites and social media for false advertising. A total of 65 B.C. chiropractors were found to be in violation of the policy after it was fully implemented in November 2018, according to the college's annual report for 2018-19.
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Da Roza said the college will use the same software to search for misleading claims about pregnancy and birth. Chiropractors have been told to look over all of their marketing materials to make sure they're up to snuff before the Jan. 30 deadline.
Anyone who practises contrary to the rules will face an investigation, the college's public notice says.