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Hip Dysplasia Baby Health A-Z

Hip Dysplasia: Baby Health A-Z

Hip Dysplasia Baby Health A-Z

Checking your babys hip health is important from birth to ensure he develops properly and goes on to take his first steps

When your baby is born, one of the first things that the midwife or doctor will check is his hips, as part of a national screening programme called the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE). lsquo;This is because some babies may have hips that are not properly in the socket joint or not shaped perfectly, a condition called Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) which affects 1-3% of newborns, says Deborah Murray from Steps, a charity supporting children with lower limb development problems.

The hip joint is called a ball and socket joint. The top of the thighbone is ball-shaped and fits into a socket on the side of the pelvis, which allows the leg to move both up and down and side to side.

During your babys NIPE check, your doctor or midwife will look at how your baby holds his legs at rest.

Hip problems such as DDH can happen to any baby, but certain factors make the condition more likely.

If your babys hip test comes back negative, but you still carry some of the risk factors such as him being in the breech position, your baby will have an ultrasound exam when hes six weeks old. If the test was positive and there was a clunking sound, your baby will have his ultrasound sooner ndash; at two weeks.

Sometimes the ultrasound will show that all is well with the hip socket and no further treatment is needed. lsquo;But if there is a problem, your baby will probably be treated with a splint, made from webbing, plastic or plaster of Paris, says Deborah. lsquo;This keeps the hips flexed so that the legs are held splayed apart in the best position to encourage normal growth.

Hip checks carried out at birth arent always 100% effective as they only detect abnormalities at the time of the test, and some problems develop later. lsquo;Thats why its a good idea for parents to be aware of any signs of problems, says Deborah. These include:

  • When changing a nappy, one leg does not move outwards as fully as the other.
  • Your child crawls with one leg dragging.
  • There are unequal creases in the buttocks or thighs.
  • The legs are different lengths.
  • Your child has a limp or abnormal waddling walk.

If you notice any of the above, speak to your GP or health visitor.

If your baby has DDH, its important to remember that its nobodys fault, and most babies with unstable hips get better without treatment.

For more baby health advice, visit our clinic section.

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