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Alert over early signs of debilitating condition

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Parents and healthcare professionals need to have better awareness about a debilitating condition which could leave children unable to walk properly, a midwife has warned after noticing an increased number of misdiagnosed cases of hip dysplasia.

Mothers and fathers should learn how to spot key symptoms of the condition - which occurs when the femur does not properly fit into the hip socket - as early intervention could mean that affected children do not have to undergo painful surgery in later life.

While there are certain factors which predispose children to develop the condition, parents can also reduce the risk of their child developing the condition by opting for wider car seats, using specially designed baby carriers and avoid forcing their child’s legs together, according to midwife Nikki Khan.

Ms Khan, who also works as a clinical negligence lawyer, said: “It’s important for parents to keep an eye out for symptoms of hip dysplasia in their children.

“If they are changing their child’s nappy and they hear or feel a clunk or a click that could be a sign so the baby should be taken to the GP.

“Also if they notice skin creases around the thighs or that one leg is shorter than the other, that could also point to it.

“When the child starts to crawl, if they are dragging their leg that could signal a problem.

“Parents can reduce the risk by buying a wider car seat, using a baby carrier that keeps the baby in the frog-like position - and anything to avoid forcing the baby’s legs together.

“If it is picked up early they can have a Pavlik harness - essentially like a plaster cast that keeps the babies legs in a frog-like position - on for six to 12 weeks to make sure that the hip is sitting in the right position.

“If it is not picked up, the child might have to undergo major surgery to correct it.

“It is so preventable if it is picked up early - 90 to 95% who are treated with the harness go on to live normal lives.”

The condition - also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip or DDH - affects two to three babies per every 1,000. It is more common in girls than boys.

Babies are usually tested for the condition, which can affect babies from birth but can develop in childhood, within 48 hours of birth.

If left untreated, it could lead to pain, one leg being shorter than another, a limp and impaired mobility in later life.

While DDH is slightly more prevalent in babies born in the breech position and those who have a family history, they can also develop the condition in later life due to environmental factors.

Ms Khan, who has been a midwife for more than 20 years, has joined baby carrier company Ergobaby to launch the campaign Is Your Baby Sitting Comfortably? to help educate parents about the condition.

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