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'Swaddling' of babies 'to be avoided'

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The return to popularity of a previously almost eradicated practice of tightly wrapping babies in blankets is causing a rise in hip problems, a surgeon has warned.

Nicholas Clarke, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said “tight swaddling” had almost been “eradicated” by the end of the 1980s but was being increasingly adopted again, with some websites selling tight “swaddlers” claiming they could help tackle colic.

He warned the trend was leading to more cases of hip dysplasia, as forcibly straightening the legs within the first three to four months of life meant babies were unable to freely flex and strengthen joints weakened during birth.

Professor Clarke said the trend was “extremely frustrating because it is something parents can control.

“I advocate swaddling in the right and safe way, which means ensuring babies are not rigidly wrapped but have enough room to bend their legs,” he added.

But Sue Macdonald, education and research manager at the Royal College of Midwives, said the college advised parents to avoid swaddling in general.

“There are concerns about the growing use of swaddling because of the possibility of overheating the baby, and the increased risk of cot death,” she said.

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