Watching a doctor manipulate your baby’s hips may make you feel slightly squeamish. But, this newborn check is essential in identifying and treating baby hip problems early.
Identifying baby hip problems
As part of your newborn’s top to toe health check, the doctor will lay her flat on her back, hold her legs straight and then, grasping one knee in each hand, bend them and turn them outwards. Although the majority of babies have hips which bend and turn out completely and smoothly, there’ll be one or two cases where the doctor will notice something unusual. Scary as this may sound, certain odd hip sounds and movements are normal in new babies. And, left alone for a few weeks, an estimated nine out of 10 babies will outgrow these.
What causes baby hip problems?
Six times as many girls as boys suffer from hip problems; and they are also more common on the left side of the body. Hip problems also run in families, so if your partner had them as children, your baby’s chances of being affected rise tenfold. If you’ve already had a baby with hip problems, your next baby should receive extra thorough checks.
Before birth, hip joints develop best if your baby has room to kick. If your baby was lying in a breech (bottom down) position in the womb with her legs squeezed together, or was surrounded by very little amniotic fluid, she won’t have had enough kicking room. A vaginal breech delivery where the hips are locked tight as they emerge, can make matters worse.
Signs to watch out for
Even if your baby has been given a clean bill of health at her newborn or six-week check, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on her. You should always ask a professional opinion if:
- One of your baby’s legs appears to be shorter than the other
- One knee looks higher than the other when your baby’s legs are bent (at nappy changes, for example)
- There are extra skin creases (fat lines) around one thigh or buttock – this suggests the two sides may not be even
- Your child appears to limp, has an uneven walk or constantly trips over.
Treating hip problems in babies
If treatment is needed, the sooner it begins the better. Ideally it should start before your baby starts walking, as without it she may develop deformed hip joints and, when she is walking, a limp.
Visit www.webmd.com for more information.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.