Preventing Developmental Hip Dysplasia in Children

Most children with developmental hip dysplasia are born with this condition, in which the top of the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the socket of the hip joint. However, damage to the cartilage and bones can occur if a newborn’s legs are in a straightened position for long periods of time—for example, by swaddling, which is a method of calming newborns that involves tightly wrapping the legs and body in a blanket or cloth. Because an infant’s cartilage and bones are still quite soft, these babies may be more likely to develop hip dysplasia. 

If you swaddle your infant, make sure his or her hips can move freely. Avoid swaddling so snugly that the baby’s legs are pulled tightly together. His or her legs should be slightly bent and spread apart, similar to the position in the womb. 

Instead of swaddling, some parents use a sleep sack, which is a wearable blanket or sleeping bag for infants. Be sure to select one that has a loose pouch for the baby’s legs and feet and allows the hips to move freely.

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