What is Hip Dysplasia ?
The Royal Childrens Hospital of Melbourne states;
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is an abnormal development of the hip joint. In children with DDH, the ball at the top of the thigh bone (called the head of the femur bone) is not stable within the socket (called the acetabulum). The ligaments of the hip joint that hold it together may also be loose. Sometimes, the hips can dislocate early in life and this may not be noticed until your child starts to walk.
What causes it ?
The cause of DDH is not fully understood, although in some cases hormones are thought to play a part. Again from RCH;
Pregnant women release hormones in their bloodstream that allow their ligaments to relax. These hormones help the delivery of the baby through the mother's pelvis. Some of these hormones enter the baby's blood, which can make the baby's ligaments relaxed as well. This can make the hip joint loose in the socket. The way the baby lies in the uterus can also cause the hip joint to dislocate or become loose.
DDH is more common in girls, firstborn children, babies born in the breech position (bottom first) and in families where a parent/sibling has had a dislocated hip joint. DDH can be in one or both hip joints.
How will I know if my baby has been born with DDH ?
Every Early Child-life Plan should include an examination from your Doctor for DDH. This is done either manually or with an accompanied ultrasound. However, even for a trained physician DDH can still be difficult to detect. Parents can help avoid exacerbation by adhering to preventative measures in your baby's first months.
According to the Inertnational Hip Dysplasia Intitute;
"The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time.
As a Parent what should I do ?
Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development. It is also important to assess the size of the baby and match the device and carrier to the size of the child so that the hips can be in a healthy position during transport."
As previously noted, the risk is greater when an unhealthy position is maintained for extended periods of time. Your use of a baby carrier and the length of time that you wear it should be limited, as much for the health of yourself as for your baby's. However, strollers, carseats and swaddling should be considered more carefully than ever due to their sometimes long periods of continued use..
Does your baby's carseat allow for his or her legs to stay separated and move freely? Are the legs also free to move while they are in their stroller?
And critically, if you are swaddling, be sure to allow the legs freedom to move.
The website mamanatural.com demonstrates excellent examples for correct swaddling.