Your baby will be examined by doctors right after they’re born. During these examinations, between the fourth and sixth week of life, ultrasound is also used to check whether your child's hip joint is unstable or easily dislocated. If this is the case, doctors call it hip dysplasia. In this post you will find out what exactly is behind this diagnosis and how it can be treated.
What is hip dysplasia?
With hip dysplasia, your baby's hip socket cannot properly hold the femoral head, which is located on their thigh. This skeletal malformation occurs in around 4 percent of newborns. In extreme cases, the femoral head even jumps out of the joint. However, this is only the case in 0.2 percent of babies.
The exact causes of hip dysplasia are not known. However, girls are affected much more often than boys. There is also an increased risk in the case of breeches and multiple pregnancies. This is because your baby's hips are in an awkward position and cannot develop sufficiently.
You can recognise a possible hip dysplasia by the fact that your child's legs are of different lengths, the gluteal folds are at different heights or their legs cannot be spread equally far.
If you are diagnosed with hip dysplasia, you need to know that at least it won't cause your baby any pain. The earlier this hip malformation is diagnosed, the better it can be treated. Otherwise, a hip dislocation may occur at a later date, which can cause your child to have problems walking. Therefore, treatment is particularly important in the early months of life, as the joints develop very strongly within the first three months of life.
How can my baby's hip dysplasia be treated?
How hip dysplasia is treated depends on the severity of the deformity. In the case of mild hip dysplasia, it’s usually sufficient to wrap your baby in a wide swaddle. Their legs are spread slightly and a cloth is placed between the nappy and the body.
If there is severe hip dysplasia, your little one will have to wear spreader pants or plaster pants. These spread their little legs so far that the hip joint is in the correct position in the acetabulum and stays there. You can also use our pyjamas, rompers and baby pants, which we have specially developed for this purpose. The legs are cut so diagonally that spreading pants can be easily integrated. If your baby wears them consistently and their hip dysplasia has healed, they will be able to move freely again after a few weeks. Until your paediatrician has confirmed this, you should only remove the spreader pants for changing nappies or bathing.
If the most severe form of hip malformation, hip dislocation, is present, the dislocated hip must be re-aligned. Usually this is done under general anaesthetic. After this procedure, your child has to wear a sit-squat cast so that the hip joint stays in the correct position. This comes very close to their posture in the womb, which is why it doesn’t feel uncomfortable for your little one after a short period of getting used to it.