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article imageBaby's death after craniosacral therapy is being investigated

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     May 24, 2009 in Health
The Public Prosecutor in Arnhem has started a criminal investigation in the death of a baby who was treated by a craniosacral therapist.
De Volkskrant, a leading Dutch newspaper, reports that the three month old girl had to be reanimated on site after the treatment, in October 2007. She died shortly thereafter in the UMC St. Radboud in Nijmegen.
Four physicians of that hospital, together with the parents, have written an article concerning the case, which has been published in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (NTvG). Orthopaedic surgeon Micha Holla says: "We want to accurately inform our colleagues with respect to this dramatic event, in order to prevent this from happening again." (1)
A few years ago, a German baby died after a therapist had used force on its neck and spine. As long as there is no scientific proof that the therapy has any benefit, it must be discouraged for use in babies, the Nijmegen doctors think.
Based on the parents' observations, they describe that the therapist has deeply bent the neck and back of the girl for several minutes. While she was in that position, she became incontinent and her breathing and heart stopped. The doctors say that medical examinations in the hospital and the autopsy report from the Nederlands Forensisch Instituut (Dutch Forensic Institute) show that the girl died as a result of fatal complications after a hyperflexion of the neck.
The Nederlandse Cranio Sacraal Vereniging (Dutch CranioSacral Association) does not recognise this manipulation. According to a spokeswoman, craniosacral therapy tries to solve physical and psychological problems by "following the movement of the brain fluid with the hands, leading to a relaxation of the body." This is never done by force, she stresses. (1)
The therapist is not known at the professional association. The spokeswoman says that this could indicate that the practitioner isn't certified. The therapy is applied worldwide and is reimbursed by health care insurers. There is no scientific proof for its effects.
The doctors of the UMC St. Radboud have reported the death to the autopsist. He informed the department of justice.
The therapists sent a reply to the article of the physicians to the NTvG. They are displeased because a respected professional journal is seeing a baseless relationship between the treatment and the death of the girl. The therapists think that the doctors are harming the profession with their conclusion.
(1) The original Dutch was translated by me
More about Carniosacral therapy, Baby death, Alternology, Quackery
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