When babies are born, it takes some time for their joints to stretch out naturally. Surely you’ve seen your little ones with their knees, ankles, hips, elbows, wrists and even fingers bent at all times. Over time, the joints stretch out and your baby gains full, natural control.
The hip joint is a ball and socket. Since babies are naturally flexible (on account of life in the womb), it’s possible for the ball to be loose in the socket. If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too long, the ball can wear down the soft cartilage edges of the socket. This is called hip dysplasia. It can range from very mild (having loose ligaments) to severe (where the ball pops out of the socket, called a dislocation). Even in the mildest form, hip dysplasia can lead to various problems later in life.
When is the risk for hip dysplasia greatest?
The risk is greatest during the first few months of life. By the sixth month, babies have doubled in size and the hips are far more developed. The ligaments are stronger and the ball is less likely to press against the edges of the socket.
Is hip dysplasia serious?
Even though hip dysplasia doesn’t cause babies any pain, it’s a serious condition. It can lead to osteoarthritis and eventually a hip replacement later in life. It’s the most common hip developmental deformity in children. 1-2 of every 1000 babies experiences it.
What causes hip dysplasia?
The exact causes of hip dysplasia aren’t known. It’s widely believed to be a developmental problem because of the time period it emerges, but there’s also something of a genetic component. Children are 30 times more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia when there is a family history of it.
What can parents do to prevent hip dysplasia?
For many babies, there’s nothing parents can do to prevent it. Some cases are present at birth. The problem can be made worse, however, from improper swaddling and baby wearing and car seats.
Proper baby wearing puts the child’s hips in a V-shape with their knees higher than their bottom. This position supports the hips and keeps the ball tight in the socket. The legs should not be hanging straight down. Here’s a picture from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute that illustrates how baby should be carried.
Swaddling correctly must be emphasized. In the past, some people would advise swaddling a baby tightly all over, but this is a mistake. When you swaddle a baby, it’s important to leave room around the hips and legs so baby can pull his knees up and move his lower body around. Further, make sure that you use a swaddle that is recognized as being “hip healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
The Zipadee-Zip is a perfect sleep garment for babies because it allows for plenty of free hip movement. If a baby has hip dysplasia, there’s plenty of room to wear a brace under the Zipadee-Zip, which is why we have so many hip dysplasia babies using our product!
Car seats aren’t usually much of a concern, but some older models can press a child’s legs together. Make sure they have plenty of room to separate their legs and pull up their knees if they prefer.
What are some signs to look out for?
- An asymmetrical buttock crease
- A click or pop when baby moves his hips
- Limited range of motion (baby can’t fully spread his legs at diaper time
- Pain (this is only a symptom during young adulthood or adolescence)
- An exaggerated walking limp or step length discrepancy
Guest Blog by Joanna von Yurt, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.
Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.
Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology. Joanna is a Certified Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) Prevention Professionals, Safe Sleep Educator, Member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, Member of the National Sleep Foundation, and Member of the Canadian Sleep Society.
Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.
Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!
Visit www.swanling.com for more information.
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