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Melbourne Midwifery

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Everything you Need to Know about Hip Dysplasia in Babies


Did you know that around 1 in 6 babies are born with some hip instability? Hip dysplasia is fairly common and when it is diagnosed early on, the treatment is shorter, less invasive and has a higher chance of success. Hip dysplasia can have on-going lifelong consequences if it isn’t noticed and treated, so that’s why we’ve put together this guide to healthy hips.


 What exactly is his dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia refers to the condition where the ball of the hip joint does not sit correctly in the socket. If it is not treated, it can cause early arthritis in the hip joint.


 Who is more at risk of developing hip dysplasia?

Statistically, more female babies than male babies are diagnosed hip dysplasia. If your baby was in the breech position in the womb or has been incorrectly swaddled, this also increases the chances they might develop hip dysplasia. Other factors can also affect this, such as whether your baby is a first born, or if there is a history of hip dysplasia in your family.


 What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in babies?

The earlier hip dysplasia is noticed in babies and young children, the easier it is to treat. There are some key signs to watch out for, like:

  • Thigh creases which are uneven
  •  Hearing a ‘click’ or ‘clunk’ noise when you move your baby’s leg
  •  Legs of different lengths
  •  Your baby or child struggles to bear weight on one side
  •  It’s difficult to spread your child’s legs apart, as if you were going to change their diaper


Knowing which signs to keep an eye out for is really useful. If you think your baby is showing any of these signs, mention it to your doctor or health visitor so that they can take a look.


 How to Reduce the Risk of Hip Dysplasia in your Baby

Some of the factors in hip dysplasia are genetic, but here are some tips on what you can do to reduce the risk of your baby developing hip dysplasia in the first 6 months of their life:

  • Practice safe swaddling: Swaddling can be a great way to calm your baby and help them sleep better, so long as you don’t constrict the hips. Your baby’s legs must not be tightly swaddled – they should have freedom of movement in their legs at all times.
  •  Whichever position your young baby is in, whether lying, being held, carried in a baby sling or in the pushchair, they should be in a natural ‘froggie’ position for better posture. This means that their hips should be turned out and their knees bent.
  •  Avoid any carrier, car seat etc that holds your baby’s legs rigid and straight. This is not a healthy leg position and will put pressure on the hips.


So there you have our guide on healthy hips for your baby. You know the signs to watch out for, plus some easy-to-implement tips on keeping your baby’s hips healthy, making sure they have better posture, and reducing the risk of hip dysplasia.

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