What are Clicky Hips in babies?

Understanding this common abnormality in newborn babies.

"A lightweight splint will be fitted to keep his hips in position."

Clicky hips are one of the most common abnormalities in newborns.

The condition affects 1 to 3% of newborns. If your baby is affected, the sooner the condition is identified the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.

The medical name for clicky hips is congenital dislocation of the hips (CDH).

The hip is made up of a ball, formed by the end of the thighbone (femur) and socket joint, formed by the pelvis.

If the socket is not properly formed, the ball tends to slip out or dislocate, making a slight click when the hip is moved.

Clicky hips are often inherited, and girls are affected more than boys.

What causes clicky hips?

CDH is more common in breech babies and babies who have been tightly squashed in the uterus due to lack of space.

For this reason, it's more common in first-born babies as the uterus tends to be tighter the first time around.

It is also more common in girls, due to the female hormones which can cause the joint to be more lax.

CDH also tends to run in families. So if one girl in the family has CDH, the chances are that her sisters will, too.

If it is detected early it can be successfully treated. But if it is only discovered when your child starts to walk with a limp it is more difficult to treat and may need surgery.

How can I tell if my child has clicky hips?

All babies are checked for CDH at birth. If his hips make a distinctive click, or if your paediatrician is in any way concerned because, say, his leg creases seem uneven, he'll be checked again within a few days.

There are varying degrees of CDH and it can occur in either one or both hips.

An ultrasound scan will be done if there are still concerns about his hips. This scan gives a clear picture of the hip joint.

In some hospitals, all babies born with the three main risk factors for CDH (breech birth, a family history of CDH or congenital abnormality) are screened by ultrasound.

Early diagnosis is important as it gets harder to examine as your child grows bigger and stronger.

In children with CDH who are not diagnosed at birth, it will show up when he begins to walk. He will probably walk late and may have a limp or an unsteady walk.

Your baby's hips will be checked throughout his first year, so it's important not to miss his health checks. However, some babies are born with hips that seen normal, but which then don't develop properly. In which case, you may be the first to pick up the signs.

You may notice that:

* One leg looks slightly longer than the other
* Extra skin creases on one thigh or buttock
* As you change his nappy, one hip may not open as much as the other
* In rare cases, he may start to walk with a limp or walk on his toes on the affected side

How are clicky hips treated?

A lightweight splint will be fitted that pushes his legs apart and keeps his hips in position. It will usually be put on within a few days of the diagnosis. But you may be asked to use double nappies on him until then, which will act like a temporary splint.

The splint is worn under his clothes and left on for the duration of his treatment - around six to 12 weeks.

Some babies may need to have traction to position their hips properly first. This tends to happen with toddlers or older children who are diagnosed later.

If the splint doesn't work, he may have to wear a plaster cast. But first he may have to spend some time in traction in hospital to reduce the chance of complications developing.

"Some babies may need to have traction to position their hips properly first. This tends to happen with toddlers or older children who are diagnosed later."

The cast is put on under general anaesthetic and worn for six weeks.

If his hip is still unstable after this time, the cast may be re-applied for as long as nine months.

Sometimes children need surgery before the plaster cast is put on. Surgery is usually carried out on older children if other treatment methods have failed or if the diagnosis was made too late for any other treatment to be effective.

Coping with a baby in splint or plaster cast

If he is wearing a plaster cast, he will be extremely heavy and hard to cuddle, so you'll need to find other ways to hug him.

There are a number of steps you need to take if your child is wearing a splint:

Feeding:

You can breastfeed, but you'll need to experiment with pillows to help support him and the splint. Young babies may find it hard to bring up wind because the splint stops them from drawing their legs up. If he's in a high chair, you may have to cut out the side so that he can straddle it.

Sleeping:

You may have to remove some the cot bars to allow his legs to stick out. He'll need fewer covers because plaster is hot.

Hygiene:

Use larger nappies than he needs. Combine them with disposable pants, to hold the nappies in place. Change him frequently to keep the splint or plaster clean.

Washing:

You will not be able to bathe him while he is in a splint or plaster, so you'll need to wash him using sponge or flannel. Also check for any signs of soreness caused by the plaster.

Dressing:

Buy clothes a couple of sizes too big for him and always with poppers or Velcro.

Transport:

A larger than usual pram or buggy is ideal, but he won't fit into a conventional child car seat. A booster seat may do for a toddler, but a small baby may need to have his seat adapted.

RELATED articles:

Your Guide To Baby Health

21 Amazing Facts About Your Unborn Baby

What Disney Princesses Would Look Like With Mummy Tummies

Last updated: May, 2015

12:0AM, Jan 15th 2009

comments powered by Disqus

Related articles

 
 
instagram
  • Whadayathink? Sometimes kids just need to be kids πŸ™ŠπŸ‘£πŸ˜˜

    mother and baby Whadayathink? Sometimes kids just need to be kids πŸ™ŠπŸ‘£πŸ˜˜

    More from the team
  • So much cuteness in these adorable little boy flatlays from @seedheritage Do you have a little man who'd look adorable in these winter outfits? πŸ’™β„οΈπŸ‘ΆπŸΌπŸΌ

    mother and baby So much cuteness in these adorable little boy flatlays from @seedheritage Do you have a little man who'd look adorable in these winter outfits? πŸ’™β„οΈπŸ‘ΆπŸΌπŸΌ

    More from the team
  • "You won't always like your child!" @theyoungmummy has shared six of the lessons she has learned since becoming a mum. Click the link on our profile and search "The Young Mummy" to read Sophie's honest (as always) words πŸ˜˜πŸ‘ŠπŸ»πŸ’•

    mother and baby "You won't always like your child!" @theyoungmummy has shared six of the lessons she has learned since becoming a mum. Click the link on our profile and search "The Young Mummy" to read Sophie's honest (as always) words πŸ˜˜πŸ‘ŠπŸ»πŸ’•

    More from the team
  • Come along to our event on Wednesday and grab your free goodie bag. See our previous post for all the event details!

Each bag includes the latest issue of Mother & Baby magazine, an Avent sippy cup, a Silly Billyz bib, $20 Plum voucher, $20 Angel Maternity voucher, qv skincare products, Sudocrem, Mater skin products, Rafferty's Garden baby food, Pigeon baby wipes, Baby Mum-Mum snacks and Little Quacker biscuits πŸŽπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ˜ #MBawards15

    mother and baby Come along to our event on Wednesday and grab your free goodie bag. See our previous post for all the event details! Each bag includes the latest issue of Mother & Baby magazine, an Avent sippy cup, a Silly Billyz bib, $20 Plum voucher, $20 Angel Maternity voucher, qv skincare products, Sudocrem, Mater skin products, Rafferty's Garden baby food, Pigeon baby wipes, Baby Mum-Mum snacks and Little Quacker biscuits πŸŽπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ˜ #MBawards15

    More from the team
  • Are you in Sydney and looking for a fun day out with your kids and other mums? Come along to our event this Wednesday for free activities and a great goodie bag. Please RSVP to slattouf@ Bauer-media.com.au #MBawards15

    mother and baby Are you in Sydney and looking for a fun day out with your kids and other mums? Come along to our event this Wednesday for free activities and a great goodie bag. Please RSVP to slattouf@ Bauer-media.com.au #MBawards15

    More from the team
  • We love a good cake smash photo and this one from little Sienna's first birthday party is adorable! Perfectly coordinated - what a little lady πŸ’•πŸŽ€πŸ’– via @mel_zag

    mother and baby We love a good cake smash photo and this one from little Sienna's first birthday party is adorable! Perfectly coordinated - what a little lady πŸ’•πŸŽ€πŸ’– via @mel_zag

    More from the team
  • This little girl's bedroom is THE cutest! Polkadot wallpaper, a play castle and a coordinating pink convertible! We're jealous 😍😍😍 via @moaochlily

    mother and baby This little girl's bedroom is THE cutest! Polkadot wallpaper, a play castle and a coordinating pink convertible! We're jealous 😍😍😍 via @moaochlily

    More from the team
  • This photo of @milano_alyssa with her baby daughter is ADORABLE! Her eyes 😍😍😍

    mother and baby This photo of @milano_alyssa with her baby daughter is ADORABLE! Her eyes 😍😍😍

    More from the team
  • We've been obsessed this week with this stunning breastfeeding photo series. Click the link on our profile to see the stunning images that celebrate mums breastfeeding their babes πŸ’•πŸ‘ΆπŸΌπŸ‘£

    mother and baby We've been obsessed this week with this stunning breastfeeding photo series. Click the link on our profile to see the stunning images that celebrate mums breastfeeding their babes πŸ’•πŸ‘ΆπŸΌπŸ‘£

    More from the team
  • Hello cutie! Isn't this cosy bubba just the CUTEST?! Those cheeks. Those knits 😍😍😍 Via @amzhome

    mother and baby Hello cutie! Isn't this cosy bubba just the CUTEST?! Those cheeks. Those knits 😍😍😍 Via @amzhome

    More from the team