Can Baby Walkers Cause Hip Dysplasia

Brent Mccoy
• Monday, 30 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Your baby's developing hips will eventually make it possible for her to crawl, walk, climb, run and even dance. Dysplasia is a musculoskeletal condition that occurs when the hip bone does not develop properly and the top of the femur doesn't fit into it like a ball and socket.

baby wearing
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In an infant, this leaves the hip joint loose and prone to injury, and can lead to other health problems. It won’t cause your little one to cry in pain and doesn’t typically prevent babies from learning to walk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ultrasound DDH screening for all female breech babies. Relaxing, a pregnancy hormone that loosens ligaments and relaxes muscles, is said to be more responsive in female babies.

Prolonged abnormal positioning after birth, including incorrect swaddling and baby carrier use. Newborns are usually screened for dysplasia shortly after delivery and by their pediatrician at each wellness exam until they are 1 year old.

This test is recommended for infants 4 months and younger, because the hip is still predominantly cartilage and unable to be seen clearly on other scans. After around 4 to 6 months of age, X-rays are the preferred method for evaluating and monitoring hip dysplasia.

If a physical exam, an ultrasound or an X-ray confirm a diagnosis, your pediatrician will likely refer you to a pediatric orthopedic specialist for continued care and treatment. These suspender-like harnesses are considered the routine treatment for infants up to 6 months of age with confirmed cases of hip instability or dislocation and are anywhere from 60 to 90 percent effective.

Because the harness is typically worn full-time for six weeks, and then part-time for another six weeks, it can make the day-to-day lives of new parenthood significantly more difficult (causing trouble finding baby clothes, changing diapers, keeping the brace clean and so on). If wearing the harness hasn’t solved the problem, a closed reduction surgery may be considered for babies between 6 and 12 months old.

It’s considered minimally invasive (no incisions) but does require your baby to be put under anesthesia for the pediatric orthopedic surgeon to position the hipbone correctly in the socket. Afterwards, a plaster cast, called a Spica, is applied to hold the hips in the “M” position and is worn for a few months.

(Sometimes babies older than 6 months qualify if the Pauli harness didn’t improve the condition). While the baby is under anesthesia, the surgeon will make an incision to reposition the hip socket and repair the ligaments.

There is the potential for some long-term problems if dysplasia is left untreated or isn't properly diagnosed early on. In fact, untreated dysplasia is the most common cause of early-onset hip arthritis in young women.

The Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, with the AAP Section on Orthopedics, recommends allowing your baby’s legs to bend up and out within a swaddle. If your baby isn’t a fan of the swaddle, or you are working on a transition, sleep suits can be a great alternative.

Too much time spent in infant equipment like carriers and seats can not only up his chances of hip dysplasia but also increase the risk of delays in sitting, crawling, walking and even talking. Remember, the vast majority of babies with dysplasia do tremendously well with treatment and are able to walk at a typical age.

Timing of first steps can also vary between babies of different ethnic backgrounds. If bowed legs appear suddenly or persist beyond the age of 2, see your baby's doctor.

That's a condition caused by, among other things, a lack of vitamin D and calcium in your baby's diet that inhibits bone growth. Bowlegs can also be caused by a relatively rare condition called Blunt's disease, which causes abnormal bone growth in the tibia, or lower leg bone.

Continued Many babies have a slight intoning, also called pigeon toes, when they're born. Pigeon toes may be caused by problems with any of three areas in the leg and foot.

Finally, this could be due to problems in the tibia or lower leg bone -- internal tibial torsion. Metatarsus adducts seen in infants tends to go away by the time a child begins walking.

This is a curve in the foot itself, usually created by the baby's position in the womb before birth, although there are other possible factors. Doctors disagree about whether to put foot braces on a child with severe pigeon toes.

Some doctors advise bracing or casting if the feet are still severely curved when a child is between 4 and 6 months old. Other doctors don't feel that bracing helps pigeon toes or speeds up the development of the feet and legs toward a more true alignment.

If your baby's knees point straight ahead with intoning, they may have internal tibial torsion, which is more commonly seen at the ages of one to three years. This condition is caused by an inward turning of the tibia (lower leg bone).

If your baby's knees point inward with intoning, they may have a condition called excess femoral ante version. However, in all cases where the situation is persistent or worsening you should consult your child’s doctor.

Continued Toe walking is common for most babies as they take their first steps. But if toe walking persists beyond the age of 2 or is done constantly, see your child's doctor for advice.

Flat feet rarely cause any problem with walking and often disappear by ages 2 or 3. Extremely flat feet can make your baby's ankles appear to bend inward as they walk.

Treatment is rarely needed except in the most severe cases, and is not generally considered until a child grows past the early infant years. This condition causes a baby's hips to develop in the wrong location because of overly relaxed ligaments and joints.

That's because a dislocated hip can cause pain that's made worse during weight-bearing. Developmental dysplasia is a general term for any number of problems with a baby's hips.

At birth the hips and ligaments may be initially unstable on examination but most quickly resolve in the first weeks. For unknown reasons, dysplasia is more common in first-born baby girls and on the left rather than the right.

Your baby's doctor will check for dysplasia at birth and during later regular checkups. Signs include one leg looking shorter than the other, unequal creases in your baby's thighs or buttocks compared to the other side, and overly stiff hips.

Dysplasia requires treatment, usually by a pediatric orthopedic specialist who will usually first assess the hips with X-rays and/or an ultrasound. Use the above milestones and the following guidelines to help you recognize any major delay in your baby's development.

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