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Swaddling babies is a common practice among parents who learn about wrapping their newborns in soft blankets to soothe them to sleep. Doctors, however, warn against swaddling babies after an infant develops hip dysplasia.
Doctors diagnosed Genevieve Lennon's son Matthew with hip dysplasia at 15 months after his parents noticed he wasn't learning to walk properly. Doctors said his hip joint's ball and socket did not develop properly, which was likely due to being wrapped and swaddled as a newborn, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
In other cases, hip dysplasia in babies develops due to breech birth or a history in the family. The problem, however, is babies don't usually manifest any pain with this hip problem, as Hip Dysplasia Institute. Thus, it's possible to overlook the condition even with regular visits to the pediatrician, or worse, it's left untreated.
A study published in The Medical Journal of Australia last 2016 stated hip dysplasia in babies as a "growing concern" in countries in the U.S., U.K. and Australia where swaddling is a popular practice. In many cases, hip dysplasia isn't detected earlier, resulting in the increased need for surgeries or more hospital visits and health care costs.
Another study published in 2013 also cited the risks of swaddling against hip dysplasia as some parents make the mistake of bundling the baby tightly around the legs. "In order for the hips to develop properly in the first six months, the legs need to be flexed and abducted, that is, separated," Dr. Nicholas P. Clarke said, as per Today.
Matthew underwent surgery to correct and rebuild his hip socket and he will be required to wear a brace for at least six more weeks. His mom said, "He gets frustrated. He can drag himself around a bit, but if he is going any distance he needs someone to pick him up and move him."