Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia or ‘clicky hips’ is a condition that occurs when the hip joint is misaligned or deformed. It can vary from mild to severe. Hip Dysplasia is fairly common occurring in 1-2 out of every thousand people.

Caroline Smith tells us about her experience with Hip Dysplasia in both her daughters:

Both my pregnancies and labours were very smooth with no problems & neither girls were breech. Our first daughter had a straight forward birth with labour being only 7 hours long, she weighed 7lbs 7. Her hip issues were fairly obvious and discovered early on by my midwife.  It was in her left hip which is the more common hip for it be found in.

They immediately put her in double nappies her with a rolled face cloth in between to push her legs further apart to open her hips to support her joints.

Hip Displasia

After 2 weeks she was then put in a little soft fabric harness for 3 months. We could not take the harness off which meant no baths, just a wipe down. I still managed to breast feed ok. As she was still small & we hadn’t got into a full routine it was fairly easy to adjust to.

She looked like a little frog with her knees almost at her armpits. She had to wear dresses or very stretchy trousers that could go over her knees.  I guess you could get emotional by this, but at the end of the day we were thankful they picked it up early & it’s better to get it over & done with quicker.

Also we were just so very thankful we conceived easily & she was born healthy & content with no other concerns, we were just so happy to have this beautiful baby in our lives. She made a full recovery and today is a happy sporty 10 year old.

We also had a fantastic labour with our 2nd daughter who arrived speedily into the world after just 3 hours. Although the routine checks showed no signs of Hip Dysplasia I was still anxious to get her checked out by a specialist as I knew the chances were slightly increased having had a sibling with it and being female.

“At first we were told she would need to be in a full hip cast for 3 months. She was Hip Displasiajust starting to crawl so the thought of her being completely immobile was upsetting”

Unfortunately it took a while for the referral to go through and we didn’t have an Xray until she was 5 months old and the specialist appointment was not for another month after that. We had not heard anything so I expected a clean bill of health so I was shocked to hear there was an issue.

At first we were told she would need to be in a full hip cast for 3 months. She was just starting to crawl so the thought of her being completely immobile was upsetting.

After seeking a second opinion she ended up having a closed reduction operation where the doctor physically manipulates the hip joint to get the ball fitting correctly into the socket. This was successful and we were relieved to find out that instead of a full hip cast she could wear soft brace for 3 months.

This was much easier to deal with than a full cast as it could be removed for bathing and changing. 4 months later she is doing well and is now only wearing the brace at night which will continue for a few more months.

Advice for other parents?

Certainly it is something that would be good for parents to be aware of however it shouldn’t be feared…babies born with hip displasia are still healthy & happy. It does not usually prevent any of the usual developments of a baby. Midwifes are trained to check for this at birth & Plunket nurses also check for this at the well checks.

The Facts:

2-3 children per thousand have hip displasia and it can vary from very mild to severe. It can occur in the womb and being breech can increase the chances. It can also be caused post birth by restrictive leg positioning such as swaddling or restrictive car seats.

As there are usually no visible symptoms checks for hip dysplasia are done routinely by midwives on all babies from 6 weeks old. This is a simple check called the Ortolani Manouvre where they rotate each leg from the hip in a circle and note any clicks or clunks. Other signs include a difference in creases of the buttocks and one knee being higher than the other.

If your midwife or doctor suspects your baby may have hip dysplasia they will refer them for an xray which will confirm this. Treatment includes wearing a harness or cast for several months while more severe cases may require surgery. While most cases of hip dysplasia are detected and successfully treated if left undetected it can cause severe problems later in childhood.


If you are worried contact your midwife or GP for a check up

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