In the UK, approx 2000 children a year are diagnosed with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH), which describes a range of conditions from mild instability to total dislocation of the hip. Detecting this early means DDH can often be corrected by simple treatment, but if found later or misdiagnosed it can mean a child requiring hospital stays, operations or even a permanent disability.
As many of my regular readers will know, unfortunately for me, I am in the latter category now. After being diagnosed with DDH as a child I now have a permanent disability with exceptionally limited mobility in one of my hips and a slight discrepancy in the length of one leg compared to the other. (However I am an exception to the norm!)
When I had my first daughter I wrote a post entitled Would My Disability Run in the Family? which talked about my experiences as a child through to today and my eldest daughter having to have a hip scan, which thankfully showed as being ok. Now it’s the turn however of my baby girl. We recently attended our local hospital to have the necessary scan and unfortunately on this occassion it hasn’t been as clear cut. The doctors told me that her hips appeared to be sitting high and have asked us to return in 3 weeks time. Apparently this could be due to her being premature and the fact that her adjusted age at the scan is different to that of a baby normally scanned so they are hoping that when they next scan her they will have dropped and everything will be ok. I can but hope! For me it is all too close to home and I don’t want my baby, or any other child for that matter too, going through what I did. That’s why I want to spread the word as much as possible about the importance of hip checks and looking for any signs of problems.
According to the charity STEPS “Many parents felt that there was a lack of information about Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). Parents also reported that there is a lack of awareness about risk factors such as family history.”
This week (11th – 17th March) is Baby Hip Health Awareness Week, a yearly event run by the charity to to raise awareness amongst parents and health professionals of the vital need to check babies’ hips during the first few weeks of life to prevent unnecessary pain and disability in later years.
STEPS have created a Baby Hip Health booklet which explains why baby’s hips are checked at birth, what the tests are and what happens if a problem is found. It also explains how to keep your child’s hips healthy.
All babies are physically examined after they are born and checking the hip joint is part of this examination but hip tests are not 100% accurate and in childhood dislocated hips are not always visible or painful, so STEPS have also created a poster “5 Ways to Check Your Baby’s Hips” which highlights any signs that may indicate that further investigation is needed.
Tight swaddling and spending long periods of time in baby car seats used can also hinder normal hip development.
As with my girls, some babies are more at risk of developing DDH. The risk factors are:
- Genetic factors (ie someone in the immediate family has also had a developmental problem with a hip).
- Position of the baby during pregnancy ie a breech presentation.
- A multiple birth
If your baby is in either of the groups above, they should have an ultrasound examination before 6 weeks old as we have had to. Hopefully for the majority of people there won’t be any issues or any problems can be corrected easily. However if you have a child with a hip condition or require support or information you can contact the STEPS Helpline on 01925 750271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively visit their website www.steps-charity.org.uk My family have found the charity a huge help over the years as the stories and advice in their newsletters have provided much reassurance and support. I hope others can take full advantage and feel the same.