Toddler lying on a hospital bed sucking a dummy while the doctor moves their legs around to check for hip dysplasia - Clair de Lune UK

As a parent, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of your baby. One condition that affects infants, particularly in their early stages of development, is hip dysplasia. June is also Hip Dysplasia Awareness Month so we thought that we'd give you some insight on understanding this condition and its implications to ensure awareness, early detection, and proper treatment.

In this blog post, we will explore what hip dysplasia is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and preventive measures to help parents stay informed and provide the best care for their little ones.

  1. What is Hip Dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is a condition characterised by abnormal development or dislocation of the hip joint. The hip joint consists of a ball-and-socket structure, and in hip dysplasia, the socket may be too shallow or poorly formed, leading to instability and potential dislocation.

  2. Causes of Hip Dysplasia: While the exact causes of hip dysplasia are not always clear, certain factors can increase the risk. These include:

    a. Genetic predisposition: A family history of hip dysplasia can increase the likelihood of a baby developing the condition.
    b. Position in the womb: Babies positioned with their legs extended and pressed together in the womb may be at higher risk.
    c. Swaddling: Improper swaddling techniques that restrain the legs too tightly can contribute to hip dysplasia.
    d. Hormonal factors: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the development of the baby's hip joints.

    Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

  3. Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia: Recognising the signs of hip dysplasia is vital for early detection and treatment. Common symptoms include:

    a. Limited hip movement: Restricted range of motion in the hips, such as difficulty spreading the legs wide.
    b. Uneven leg length: One leg may appear shorter than the other.
    c. Clicking or popping sounds: Audible sounds when moving the baby's hips.
    d. Asymmetrical thigh or buttock folds: One side may have more skin folds or creases than the other.

  4. Diagnosis: Diagnosing hip dysplasia involves a physical examination by a healthcare professional, followed by imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-ray. Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure timely intervention and prevent complications.  In the UK, your midwife will check your babies hips as routine in their first examination and home-visit.  If you spot any of the above symptoms, you can call your GP who is also trained to diagnose hip dysplasia.

  5. Treatment Options: The treatment approach for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition. Common treatment options include:

    a. Pavlik harness: A soft harness that holds the baby's hips in a stable position, allowing proper alignment and development. Usually used with newborns for up to 12 weeks.
    b. Spica cast: In more severe cases, a cast may be used to hold the hips in place while they develop. This requires your child to be over 4 months old, and the cast can be used between 8 and 16 weeks.
    c. Surgical intervention: If other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be required to correct the hip joint's alignment.

    Proper Baby Swaddling

  6. Preventive Measures: While hip dysplasia cannot always be prevented, there are measures parents can take to reduce the risk or detect the condition early:

    a. Avoid improper swaddling: Allow enough room for your baby's legs to move and flex naturally.
    b. Regularly check hip development: Pay attention to any abnormalities, limited range of motion, or asymmetrical appearance.
    c. Seek medical advice: Consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your baby's hip development.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects some babies, and early detection and treatment are crucial for optimal outcomes. Parents must be aware of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and preventive measures related to hip dysplasia. By staying informed and proactive, parents can ensure the healthy development of their baby's hips and promote their overall well-being. Remember, early intervention is key to successful treatment!

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