Many mums have given birth to their beautiful bouncing baby boy or girl only to be told that their child’s hip joints aren’t properly developed, and that they have Developmental Hip Dysplasia. Having to put your baby in a brace can be difficult for those first few months, but it’s key to learn the facts about common conditions like these.
What is it?
Developmental hip dysplasia is a term for general looseness or instability of the hip joint. It can range from being very mild with some ligaments loose around the hip to severe where the hip is dislocated or popping out of the joint. More common in girls than boys, in its mildest form it can sometimes lead to hip problems in later life. Many hip replacements (way down the line!) are as a result of hip dysplasia in the first year of life.
Why does it occur?
Though there is no one reason why your baby could be born with hip dysplasia, it is often referred to as developmental dysplasia of the hip, as it develops after birth or during childhood.
However, studies have shown that it is more likely to develop if there is genetic history.
- If one child has it, then a subsequent child is 6 per cent more likely to develop it
- If a parent has it, then their child is 12 per cent more likely to develop it
- Asymmetrical buttock creases can suggest hip dysplasia
- Popping or clicking in the hip joint
- Limited motion – this can be noticed when changing nappies as the hips don’t properly spread
- Difference in leg length
- Exaggerated waddling or limping after learning to walk
- Swayback – an exaggerated arch or curve of the lower back
Non-surgical treatment of hip dysplasia is most common when the baby is under six months of age. Some treatments include:
- Pavlik harness – a specially designed harness that gently positions your baby’s hips in a well aligned and secure position, encouraging normal hip development over time
- Hip abduction brace – this brace is used in infants (usually 0-3 months) and holds the hips in a properly aligned position to encourage normal hip development. It is a hard cast, not flexible like the Pavlik harness and holds the legs apart.
When diagnosed and treated early, babies with developmental hip dysplasia often make full recoveries and have excellent outcomes.
If you’re unsure whether or not your baby is developing normally, please consult your GP or medical care team for advice.