DDH: How to prevent Hip Dysplasia in Babies – Northernmum

DDH: How to prevent Hip Dysplasia in Babies – Northernmum

Today I watched my daughter try and jump…

She bent one leg and reached out her ‘bad’ leg straight so she was in a crouch position of some kind.  She took a huge intake of breath and summoned all her energy and shouted ‘jump’ out with an enormous grin whilst merely standing up straight.

It was beautifully funny.

It was a tiny clue that the effects of DDH have not quite left us yet.

Writing this blog was a huge coping mechanism when Libby-Sue was diagnosed, and I have always wanted to provide some information about the way DDH comes about, how to prevent it and if you should find yourself in our shoes, how to fix it.  When I see friends with bumps I want to warn them about the horrid illness that binds your child that I never knew existed until we were disgnosed.

Recently an educational campaign called“Is Your Baby Sitting Comfortably?” was launched to inform parents about risks of Hip Dysplasia
Midwife and Clinical Negligence Lawyer Nikki Khan calls for greater awareness of the condition after seeing an increase in misdiagnosed cases
Hip dysplasia (also known as Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip or DDH) affects up to 2-3 in every 1000 (approx. 2171 in UK) of all infants*.

 *What is DDH?
DDH occurs when the femoral head (ball) is outside the Acetabulum (hip socket), rather than the normal ball-in-socket joint.
Research from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute shows that DDH is slightly more prevalent in baby girls, as well as amongst babies born in the breech position or who have a genetic predisposition to the condition. However, amongst these babies there are a series of steps that can be taken to prevent the development of the condition.  
How parents can prevent the development of DDH
–          When your baby is sitting, aim for the M position in the legs to help mimic the foetal position in the womb
–          Use a wider car seat so that there is room for the legs to be apart, putting the hips in a better position
–          Use a baby carrier that supports the thigh to the knee joint (see diagram below). This ensures that the forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are fully supported and the hip is in a more natural, stable position.
–          Avoid slings and swaddling that force your baby’s legs together 

BB after surgery to correct DDH

The condition, which can affect babies from birth but which can also develop in childhood, means that the hip joint is completely or partially dislocated. Babies suffering the condition may have to have remedial treatment as a result.  BB was born with her hip in socket, at some point it came out, unintentionally we may have done this.
Having seen more cases of misdiagnosed Hip Dysplasia come across her desk in recent months, Lawyer and Midwife Nikki Khan, along with Ergobaby, has launched an education drive to help inform and empower parents to look out for key symptoms of the condition that their baby might experience.  
The “Is Your Baby Sitting Comfortably?” campaign aims to help educate parents, enabling them to make informed decisions and reduce any risks of DDH that are unrelated to genetics or birth and could be helped simply through a baby’s seating position.
Research has shown that there are a variety of contributory factors that parents should be aware of, which include over-swaddling, seating positions in car-seats, carriers and play equipment.
Nikki Khan commented:
“DDH is remarkably little reported and very little understood by a lot of parents. However, there are a series of steps they can take to dramatically reduce the risk, such as choosing a wider car seat, using an ergonomic baby carrier and avoiding forcing baby’s legs together.
“It’s also important for parents to keep an eye out for symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in their children. These include one longer leg, dragging a leg when crawling, hearing or feeling a click in the hip when changing the nappy, seeing a difference in the skin creases of the thighs and difficulty in moving a leg sideways when getting the baby dressed.

Life in spica: DDH

BB was diagnosed when she began to walk with a limp and we saw her leg significantly longer on the left.  That day still makes me cry in memory. 
“I would counsel all parents, and those identified to be at risk in particular, to ensure that they are paying close attention to the position their infant is placed in while in a baby carrier, especially in the early days before the diagnosis is confirmed. It’s vital that they choose an ergonomic carrier, such as the Ergobaby carrier that enables the baby to sit in the best possible position, avoiding slings that force the babies legs together.”
For parents who want more information about Hip Dysplasia Nikki Khan and Ergobaby have created an educational guide to the condition and how to avoid it on the Ergobaby Facebook page. Videos and an information sheet for parents are to be found here: www.facebook.com/ergobabyuk
Ergobaby asked me for my opionion as a parent and these are my words of wisdom…

Parenting blogger Jane Blackmore, is familiar with the effects of DDH and has documented her daughter’s diagnosis and progress with hip dysplasia in her widely read blog, Northern Mum. Jane is keen to help inform and educate other mums and on DDH and, where possible, how to try and prevent it, or ease the effects of living with it.
Jane comments: “Finding out your daughter has to have surgery at 18months is heartbreaking, finding out you could have helped prevent it is worse.  My daughter was diagnosed with DDH at Christmas; she underwent five hours of surgery and faced 3 months in a spica cast which reached her tummy and spread to her ankles.  Aged 2 she has just learned to walk again.  Living with a child with DDH is frustrating as you see other children living their normal life and racing around; Libby has yet to run.  In saying that that we are now survivors of DDH, I enjoy every single step that little bit more.  I cannot bend to hug my toddling two year old without tears pricking at my eyes.”  

BB out of spica!



  1. Claire
    September 8, 2012 / 3:26 pm

    I had DDH (born with it). DD (11mo) was breech and had a hip scan at six weeks old, repeated at eight weeks where we were told her hips where fine. When she started crushing a few months ago we noticed that her left foot was turning out at a 90-degree angle. She saw a physio who diagnosed hypermobility (which I also have) and her left leg appears to be longer than her right and the creases on her left leg are lower than those on her right. We’re waiting for a scan appointment with the paediatric orthopaedic surgeon to get a proper measurement and to see whether her hip is actually in the socket. Coupled with the wait for a DMSA scan on her kidneys and anaemia blood test results it’s a tense time.

    Campaigns like this are so important because there is very little awareness, only one or two mums at our toddler and baby group knew about DDH when I mentioned the problem with DD’s foot, only one or two knew that something like that should be checked as a ‘warning sign’ for hip problems.

    Some people on my husband’s side of the family keep asking me why she isn’t walking when her two younger cousins are, it’s so annoying and upsetting. Our worry isn’t that she isn’t walking, it’s that she might have serious problems with her hip.

    Your daughter is lovely, I’m glad she’s made such good progress and it’s reassuring to read the story of someone who had come out the other side of where we are right now.

    • northernmum
      September 9, 2012 / 7:18 pm

      BB also has hypermobility which was diagnosed after surgery.

      It is really tought waiting to be diagnosed and I hope that it all turns out well for you.

      feel free to get in touch via email if you have any questions if the x ray doesnt come out as hoped xxx

  2. September 8, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    Beautiful post Jane, our girls rock, that is all. They have been through so much, as have we with them.

    • northernmum
      September 9, 2012 / 7:18 pm

      and we got to meet! x

  3. September 8, 2012 / 6:28 pm

    Wow, I feel like an idiot, but I was completely unaware of this until reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. I recall my babies hips being checked soon after birth but had no idea how their precious little hips could be supported to prevent potential injury.

    What an amazing and beautiful little girl you have. I wish her and your family all the best.

    • northernmum
      September 9, 2012 / 7:18 pm

      Thank you very much!
      and I had never heard of DDH until we got it….

  4. September 9, 2012 / 8:12 am

    best wishes to you all – what a wonderful post.
    I too have lived with a certain amount of guilt about my sons many allergies (some severe), asthma and eczema. Am I in some way responsible? who knows?
    I do know I have a beautiful son who brings great joy every day.

    • northernmum
      September 9, 2012 / 7:20 pm


  5. Rachel
    September 9, 2012 / 9:48 am

    My DD (14 months) is waiting for X-rays on her hops as her left leg is longer than the right and the creases on the backs of her legs don’t line up. We were warned it could be DDH. I am petrified and angered as when she was born a Dr said her hips felt they would easily dislocate but was then over-ruled by a Consultant, who I now worry was wrong. I suppose we shall find out in time if anything is wrong with her but for now I am worried.

  6. northernmum
    September 9, 2012 / 7:20 pm

    Oh rachel, the waiting game is the worse bit, when are your x rays?

    • northernmum
      September 10, 2012 / 11:41 am


  7. September 9, 2012 / 9:48 pm

    So much great information here: I thought I knew so much about children’s problems, but until I read your blog I did not know about this one, well done for raising awareness x

    • northernmum
      September 10, 2012 / 11:44 am

      It is so unknown but ironically common, wierd x

  8. September 13, 2012 / 8:18 pm

    fab post! Having had and DDH myself and not quite come out the other side that well I am in huge support of this campaign and would love to write something on my blog too at some point if that would be ok? Anything I can do to help raise awareness. Having lived with it all these years I still didn’t know if some of the ways to avoid it myself! xxx

  9. jane
    September 14, 2012 / 8:13 pm

    Of course that’s ok Xxxxxx

  10. October 4, 2012 / 1:26 pm

    Thanks for this post. Will share as it is important parents know about the ways DDH can be prevented.

    • northernmum
      October 7, 2012 / 6:57 pm

      thanks you very much

  11. Katherine Jameson
    March 4, 2015 / 7:02 pm

    Thanks for providing great information on preventing hip dysplasia. This was helpful when researching swaddles because I knew to avoid the swaddles that restrict the movement of my baby’s legs and was able to find the Zipadee-Zip.

  12. Barbara4321
    August 2, 2015 / 10:08 pm

    I am so sorry you child had to get surgery to correct the hip joint. I was super afraid of using swaddle blankets at first but it just helped my son actually sleep. I found that around 3 months old, he was big enough for me to switch him to the Zipadee-Zip. Its wingspan shape gives him mobility and my fear of his hips being negatively impacted went away.

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