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Swaddling babies can cause hip problems

13th March 2012

A prominent surgeon has warned that mothers who swaddle their babies could be putting their children at risk of hip problems in the future.

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Professor Nicholas Clarke, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said full swaddling is causing an increase in children with hip dysplasia.

When a baby is born, its hip joints loosen because of hormones its mother releases in order to make birth easier.

If a baby is swaddled, it means it is unable to straighten or flex its legs, which can cause problems with its hips.

Professor Clarke, said: "This form of swaddling used to be very commonly used across the world but, with the help of major educational programmes such as the one used to eliminate the problem in Japan in the 1980s, it was all but eradicated and cases reduced drastically."

"Now, I and my colleagues across the UK and in America are witnessing its revival, with swaddlers being advertised on the internet that tightly wrap babies. For the hips, that is exactly what you don’t want to happen."

Southampton General Hospital hip clinic screened 100 babies each week and one in 20 are found to have hip problems.

Professor Clarke said: "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 – they don’t need to have their legs straightened as there is plenty of time to stretch before they start to walk." 

 

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