Hip Dysplasia and Babywearing: FACTS.

There have been arguments in babywearing communities about whether crotch dangling does or doesn’t cause hip dysplasia. Some argue that hip dysplasia is a congenital condition, meaning that it is present at birth. Others having heart-rending accounts of how crotch dangling contributed to their child’s hip dysplasia which wasn’t present at birth.

Here’s where I drop a bomb: BOTH SIDES ARE CORRECT.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute warns against the use of narrow base infant carriers and narrow seated car seats because they contribute to hip dysplasia and cause stress on developing hip joints.

“Cultures that keep infants’ hips extended on a cradleboard or papoose board have high rates of hip dysplasia in their children. Cultures that hold infants with the hips apart have very low rates of hip dysplasia.” – IHPI

There are two forms of hip dysplasia:

  1. Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH): not present at birth and develops during the first year of life. Rates of DDH are significantly higher in cultures that carry their babies in a legs-together position. Crotch dangling and crotch danglers contribute to this form of hip dysplasia– as do cradle boards.
  2. Congenital Dislocation of the Hip (CDH): this is present at birth. Routine neonatal exams check for this. The use of crotch danglers will aggravate this condition. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute warns against the use of infant carriers that keep the infant’s legs together.

Using a carrier that holds the child’s legs together (e.g. cradleboard), has leg holes that allow legs to dangle parallel (i.e. “crotch danglers”), or use a carrier in a way in which either of the previous two situations occur– will worsen Congenital Dislocation of the Hip and may contribute to Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip.So, try to avoid it.

When you know better, you do better.

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