Swaddling a baby wrong can cause hip problems.


by Health Team


Posted on October 18, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 18 at 8:35 AM

"Bingo," exclaimed Haley Marshsteiner as she maneuvered her videogame character.

The bubbly six year old laughs, plays games, and tries to look on the bright side. But right now she's stuck in her chair, after hip surgery.

"I don't like sitting all the time," Haley said.

Haley was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 18 months, traced to  something her mom did when she was a baby.

"I swaddled her tight, trying to comfort her," said her mother Melissa Hord.

"Tight swaddling with the legs out straight can actually dislocate a baby's hips," cautioned Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Charles Price.

Dr. Price, of the Arnold Palmer Institute in Florida is sounding the alarm about the risk of swaddling a baby too tightly. He's not against swaddling, saying it comforts babies. Studies show swaddling can reduce crying, and help fussy babies develop better sleep patterns.

But wrapping a baby's legs too tightly and too straight can cause the hip joints to become loose or dislocated in their sockets. It's called hip dysplasia. Often it resolves on its own, but not always.

"Unrecognized hip dysplasia is the most common cause of arthritis in young women," said Dr. Price.

To prevent it, babies should be wrapped so the legs are free to bend up and out at the hips. The technique was described in a recent AAP News article, the official Newsmagazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"When you swaddle you put the blanket across the top of the shoulders," Dr. Palmer explained.

In the correct technique, he said, the arms are snugly tucked inside the blanket, but there's plenty of room for the hips to move freely.

Fresh out of a cast, Haley's had two surgeries to correct her hips. She said she couldn't wait to get out of her chair.

"I want to play a lot because I haven't got to play that much when I was in a cast," she said.

"Dr. Price wanted parents to know that babies are especially vulnerable to hip dysplasia in the first three months. That's before their ligaments tighten up to keep joints in place.  Two or three babies out of every thousand will need treatment for hip dysplasia.

You can find more informatoin at the International Hip Dysplasia Website.