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Our Journey with Developmental Hip Dysplasia

Posted on Sep. 4, 2013 ( comments)

My emotional high came crashing down just a few short hours after my daughter was born when we were told that she had hip dysplasia. The doctor tried to explain things but all I heard was "dislocated hips" and "body brace." I was devastated, confused and fearful of what the diagnosis meant for our sweet girl, Parker.

A week later I was at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital to get an ultrasound of Parker’s hips and to meet with a pediatric orthopedic specialist. The ultrasound confirmed the "clicking" in her hips was indeed hip dysplasia. She explained that hip dysplasia is somewhat common in infants; about 2-3 of every 1000 babies have hip instability that requires treatment. The exact cause is unknown, but it is more common if there is family history of hip issues (there isn't that we are aware of), if a baby is breech (which she wasn't), and in first-born females (which she was).

If diagnosed early, a Pavlik harness worn for about 12 weeks is the typical treatment. It's a full body harness that holds the legs in a frog-like position and has to be worn 24 hours a day, and you aren't supposed to take it off. The first few weeks were terrible; learning how to change a diaper with this contraption on was difficult. Not being able to bathe her was even harder, especially since she spit up all the time and averaged about two blow outs a day. I had to meet with a lactation consultant to help me figure out a position to hold her while breastfeeding. Everything was just more difficult.

We had to go back to Mary Bridge about every two weeks to adjust the straps on Parker’s harness as there was a lot of growing happening; and we had monthly ultrasounds done to check the progress of her hips. The Pavlik harness is a very successful treatment method, but I couldn’t help but fear her hips wouldn’t improve and she would have to have surgery and endure wearing a body cast (which is common if hip dysplasia is not detected early).

Midway through her treatment her hips were showing improvement so Parker was able to cut back to wearing the harness just 12 hours a day. Each appointment showed improvement and after five months of wearing the harness we went in for an X-ray that would determine if we were finished with the treatment.

It was good news! Her hips are still not 100 percent normal. We will find out at her one year appointment if her hips are still progressing positively, if so, then there will be annual X-rays to ensure that the hip and socket continue to form correctly. If they are not improving, then surgery options will be discussed.

Right now we’re hanging on to hope that her hips are forming normally. Either way, children with hip dysplasia will continue to be checked until adolescence. The great news though is that hip dysplasia, if caught early is almost 100 percent treatable.

Ruthy is a blogger living in Tacoma who writes mostly about life as a new mom, as well as updates details on their recently purchased mid century modern fixer upper that they have been remodeling room by room.

Posted in: Kids' Health

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Ruthy Taylor, Local Blogger,
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