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Monday, 19 April 2010

Parents urged to have their baby’s hips checked

Experts at Sydney Children’s Hospital (SCH), Randwick are calling on parents to ask their health care professional about hip dislocations, with a growing number of children presenting with serious complications caused by the condition.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) is a problem affecting 1 in 300 births.

Identified and treated early, most children will recover fully from the condition. If a diagnosis is made after walking age, the hip will rarely ever be normal.

Dr Angus Gray, Head of Orthopaedics at SCH says that in the past few years the number of children presenting with late, walking age DDH has steadily increased.

Seven children presented in 2007, 14 in 2008, 15 in 2009 and to date, three in 2010.

'In the past few years, we have seen more and more children over the age of six months, and in some cases up to 3 ½ years, with moderate to severe hip dislocations,' said Dr Gray.

'While the numbers may seem low, all children have had to undergo invasive surgery, periods in hospital and ongoing therapy.

All these children are now at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and requiring early hip replacement surgery.

Identified early, hip dislocations can typically be treated with non invasive therapy like bracing. Left undetected, surgery is typically the only available option and unfortunately, the hip will rarely ever be 100 per cent normal.'

Dr Gray says that some of the signs of DDH include a limp, asymmetrical skin folds in the upper thigh and leg length inequality or unevenness in hip movements.

'Parents understand the importance of having their child’s eye sight and hearing checked, but not many realise how important it is to have their hips checked,' said Dr Gray.

'DDH isn’t always an easy condition to diagnose, however parent’s need to look out for some of the signs and symptoms, and talk to their doctor or family health nurse if they are concerned.

Parents know their children better than anyone else, and should ask questions if they feel something is not right,' Dr Gray added.

Babies who are delivered in the breech position and whose family have a history of hip related problems are at increased risk of developing DDH. Babies who are born with some postural foot deformities are also at higher risk.

Parents are encouraged to take advantage of the expertise available at the free NSW Health baby health check clinics and regularly look out for the signs of DDH.

Dr Gray encourages parents to avoid wrapping their baby’s legs tightly and   if parents plan to use a baby carrier, front baby carriers which safely separate their baby’s legs are ideal for hip development. All selected baby carriers should adhere to Australian Standards.

For more information, please contact Jessica Jaramillo, Sydney Children’s Hospital Public Affairs on (02) 9382 3571 or 0404 001 722.

For Further Information Contact:

Jessica Jaramillo, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0404 001 722

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