When Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) occurs, it is important to understand that it is not anyone’s fault.
New mothers make hormones that help ligaments relax during the birth. These relaxing hormones can stay in a baby’s blood stream for a few weeks making it normal for babies’ hips to be ‘stretchier’ and looser shortly after birth. Babies’ hips are always flexed so their thighs lie against their stomachs. They should be allowed to kick them straight on their own and not be stretched out.
It is important to leave the hips free to move and not tightly strapped down with the legs straight out and pressed together. Let your baby hold his or her hips bent up as they were in the womb and allow room for the legs to move freely.
Things that could hinder normal hip development are tight swaddling and spending long periods of time in baby seats used for transport.
If you have any questions please contact the STEPS helpline 01925 750271 or email us for help and advice about the next stage.
You may also want to take a look at the video on Hip healthy swaddling courtesy of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
DDH can happen to any baby but some factors make the condition more likely.
The two most important risk factors are:
- a baby born by breech or who was in the breech position in the last three months of pregnancy
- a close family history of DDH or hip problems that came on in early childhood.
DDH is more common in first pregnancies and in baby girls and also babies who have mild foot abnormalities or tightness in the neck.
Usually, however, there is no identified risk factor and it is not known why a baby has the condition.