As parents of babies or young children you may have heard the term hip dysplasia or you may remember your pediatrician moving your little ones hips around at all those check-ups during the first year. They are feeling and listening for clicks or clunks which, when felt may indicate hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is the term used to describe a hip joint that is not properly formed so that either the hip can be dislocated and relocated with passive movement or is already in a dislocated position. The term developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is used when the condition is present in a newborn or develops sometime around birth, usually in the first year of life. As physical therapists, we know that most of the time DDH is present at birth and can be attributed to the baby’s position in the womb. Specifically, the breech position is found to be a cause for DDH present at birth. While the exact cause of DDH in other cases is not known, there is an increased likelihood with a positive family history as well as in the female gender, with girls being 4-5 times more likely to have hip dysplasia than boys. However, we also know that DDH can develop over time in otherwise healthy hip joints or can further the amount of hip dysplasia in a mild case that is maybe yet to be diagnosed. Read the tips below so will know the signs of hip dysplasia as well as how to prevent it from developing or worsening by understanding how to position baby with swaddles, carriers, etc.
1. Signs of hip dysplasia that you can take note of and tell your doctor about:
- Asymmetry of skin folds: when your baby is lying on his or her tummy, the gluteal and thigh folds should be symmetrical at the same height.
- Loud, audible clicking or clunking felt during diaper changes
- Limited range of motion available at one or both hips
- Swaddles should be loose around the hips and thighs to allow for baby’s natural hip position (flexed and externally rotated). Baby should have free movement from the waist down.
- Swaddles should not hold baby’s hips extended or close together.
3. Baby carriers
- Baby carriers should support baby underneath the buttock and thighs and allow the legs to spread apart with flexion at the hips.
- Baby’s hips are more at risk when they are allowed to dangle straight down or are held close together in a sling type carrier.
For more information as well as images that demonstrate proper hip positioning during swaddling, use of baby carriers and car seats, visit the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website here. If you have questions about specific products out there, let us know!