June is International Hip Dysplasia Month and we are helping to raise awareness of this condition, which affects babies around the world. When Emily Williamson first designed the Izmi baby carrier, she had hip health at the forefront of her mind and our baby carriers and wraps have been recognised as Hip Healthy Products by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip Dysplasia affects thousands of babies across the world every year and is more common than you may think. 1 in 6 babies will be diagnosed with some type of hip instability and approximately 2-3 in every 1000 of those will require treatment according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute . Thankfully all babies’ hips are tested at birth here in the UK and with an early diagnosis they can start treatment from a very young age. If left untreated, Hip Dysplasia can cause a life-long disability so it is important for us to raise awareness to help more babies around the world to benefit from the diagnosis and treatment they need.
Can Hip Dysplasia be prevented?
Though the causes of Hip Dysplasia are not fully understood, most babies that are diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia are born with the condition. We also know that other factors can contribute to how a baby’s hips develop after they are born. So there are lots of things that parents can do to reduce the chance of complications if your baby is diagnosed with hip instability but doesn’t require treatment, and even if their hips are correctly aligned.
It is important to allow baby to remain in the hip healthy ‘frog’ position by giving legs the freedom to lie wide open and bent at the knees. This is crucial at night time while they are sleeping, but also during the day. Try to avoid leaving baby in a restrictive car seat or pushchair that keeps their legs together for long periods of time. If you swaddle your baby at night, make sure that their legs are free to bend up into their natural ‘frog’ position and not wrapped straight together.
If you are babywearing then try to make sure that your baby’s legs are fully supported in the ‘frog’ position. The carrier should be wide enough to support under their thighs and with their knees tucked up higher than their hips. If your babies’ legs hang straight down then they will not be as well supported and this can put pressure on their soft, growing joints. For babies who have been diagnosed with a hip condition do be particularly careful as their joints may be more sensitive and so good support in a wrap or carrier is very important.
When you are wearing your baby, a good guide is to aim to hold them in the position that you would if you were naturally carrying them in your arms. For smaller babies their legs will tuck up high to the sides of their body; for bigger babies their legs will wrap around you more. Adjust your wrap or carrier so that it is wide enough to support under the full width of their bottom and thighs. They should be held snug against your body and close enough to kiss so that they are not slumped down and putting unnecessary pressure on their spine or hips.
Is it safe to babywear if my baby has Hip Dysplasia?
If your baby has been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia then we recommend going to see a Babywearing Consultant to ensure that you choose a suitable carrier and know how to position it correctly before you begin using it. They will also be able to help you to find a carrier that you can fit around any treatment harness or casts your baby may need to wear. Whilst a Babywearing Consultant is not a medical professional, they will understand the importance of good hip support in carriers and will be able to make sure that your baby gets the support their hips need. It is almost always possible to find a carrier that will give safe support for a baby with Hip Dysplasia.
Unfortunately some baby carriers do not provide the support needed for healthy hip positioning. Because of this some doctors recommend avoiding using carriers because they are concerned that you may not choose the right one. There are many hip-healthy carriers available and so a diagnosis doesn’t mean that you can’t babywear. If your baby has been diagnosed with hip instability of any form get advice from an independent baby carrying professional so that you can understand all the options and be confident that you can carry your baby safely.
You can find your nearest Babywearing Consultant at your local sling library, check out our database to find one near you.
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