A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

Baby Hip Health Awareness Week – Hoping My Little Girl Won’t Be Affected

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!)

traction 1

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.

STEPS baby hip health booklet

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.

STEPS baby hip health poster

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 info@steps-charity.org.uk 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.

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Would my disability run in the family???

So if you have read some of my other blog posts you will know that I have a disability. I was born with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) and have had 9 operations on my legs and hips over the years, including a leg lengthening operation.

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is when the ball and socket do not fit snugly together.  According the the charity STEPS about 1 or 2 in every 1,000 babies has a hip problem that requires treatment and there are varying degrees of severity, some will just have immature hips that correct themselves, others will have DDH and require treatment.

I had to undergo a significant amount of treatment and ended up on all kinds of traction and with various plasters and splints within hours of being born as some of the below pics show. (I think I hung in every position possible!)

Unfortunately for me, things weren’t as advanced back then and over the years things didn’t always go according to plan, as a result I still have problems and my mobility in recent years has deteriorated. I don’t let it hinder me much though and as you can see from my blog I have gone on to marry and have a lovely daughter with my caring hubby.

Because of my history though my little girl had to have a scan of her hips a few weeks after she was born to check that she was ok, as there is a genetic link that means DDH can be hereditary and there’s also an increased chance in breech birth‘s (which she was too). It was a very worrying time, especially with all that had happened to me. My friends and family were probably as nervous as we were to know if she had been passed the same problem down the line. (My niece has also just had to be scanned because of the family link too.)

The day came for the scan at the hospital and we were led into a room in the xray department for an ultrasound style scan. The team that greeted us and carried out the scan were fantastic, it took hardly no time at all and thankfully we were told there and then that everything appeared normal. (Thankfully my niece has been given the all clear too.)

I was so pleased that my little girl won’t have to go through any of the things that I did. However I know that had we received different news we would have managed. The medical advancements now are much better and as a result fewer children go on to have further problems, most are corrected very early on.

However I wanted to share my story with you to make people aware of the importance of monitoring things like limb development etc in the early weeks, months and years.

ALL babies’ hips are checked at birth and at 6-8 weeks as part of a national screening programme called the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE).  However the physical examination is not 100% accurate as this only detects hip instability at the time of the examination. This means that some babies might appear to be normal at the tests but develop problems later or that DDH has not been picked up at the initial examination. As formal checks finish after the 6-8 week check, parents or grandparents are often best at noticing signs of a hip problem.

If you notice any of these signs you should contact your health professional as soon as possible to be referred to an orthopaedic specialist for an ultrasound or xray to confirm a diagnosis of DDH:

  • Deep unequal creases in the buttocks or thighs
  • When changing a nappy one leg does not seem to move outwards as fully as the other or both legs seem restricted
  • Your child crawls with one leg dragging
  • Inequality in leg length
  • A limp if one leg is affected or abnormal ‘waddling’ walk if both hips are affected.
  • Do remember that a hip not properly in joint does not hurt in childhood.

The above information was taken from the charity STEPS website. Should you have to have any concerns, have to have further tests for your child, or receive news that they have some form of lower limb problem, then  STEPS can be an enormous support. My family and I have had links with them since I was a toddler and still keep up to date with their work now, many years down the line. They offer advice, guidance and support to individuals, families and carers in what can be a confusing time.

As I have been getting to know other parent bloggers and checking out their blogs I have come across a couple of lovely mummy bloggers who are going through similar things at present, Emma from Emma and three and Molly from Mother’s Always Right both have stories to share and their children are gorgeous, courageous, outgoing little people who despite being held back a little with their mobility at this point in time are still living life to the full and enjoying exploring the world around them. I have no doubt that whilst things are hard for them at present and frustrating for all concerned it won’t be long before their little ones are chasing down their playmates and I look forward to reading all about it as their stories hit a very personal note for me.

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