“There’s very good evidence that wrapping up babies with their legs tightly together is very bad for their hip development,” said surgeon Nicole Williams.
It is one of the most popular practice among parents, and one that they learn early on. In fact it is one of the first things they do as a parent, wrapping their newborn up in the hospital before heading home.
But now the doctors are warning that swaddling infants could be dangerous. Especially if done wrong.
According to a study The Medical Journal of Australia, the researchers have found a link between swaddling and late-onset hip dysplasia in children.
“The study found that about 44% of babies that were diagnosed with DDH after they were three-months-old needed surgery,” said a Motherish report, “whereas most cases that were picked up early could be treated without surgery.”
“There’s very good evidence that wrapping up babies with their legs tightly together is very bad for their hip development,” said report author and paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Nicole Williams.
“We’re worried that some babies are being swaddled as newborns and that’s predisposing them to developing hip troubles.”
In certain cultures where it is commonplace to wrap infants tightly with their legs together, high rates hip dysplasia exist, such as in Japan and South Australia.
At three months of age, babies are getting diagnosed with the disorder.
Swaddling has been round for centuries, extending so far back as the time of Jesus’s birth, and now it’s starting to get popular again.
It is a practice popular for settling babies and putting them at ease.
“However, doctors say the best position for baby hips to develop is when they are held ‘up and out,’ said the same Motherish report. “In medical terminology it’s called ‘flexed and abducted’ and is also known as the ‘M’ or ‘frog-squat’ position.”
Dr. Nicole Williams isn’t saying that parents should forego swaddling entirely, but she does want parents to do it right.
“Swaddling should be done in a way that allows space for the hips to naturally flex and abduct,” she says. “Cocoons should also have ample space to allow the flexed, abducted position.”
Using a stretchy material isn’t enough; there must be enough space for the legs.
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