Ten fingers...ten toes…healthy hips...
Newborns are meant to have their hips checked, to make sure they are healthy, straight after they are born and again before they leave hospital. Immediately after birth, the ligaments around the hip joint can be loose in some newborns, making their hip slip out of place. The repeat hip-check before going home helps to see if this is settling down.
Sometimes, if there are other medical issues at the time of birth, these checks can be missed. In the community, child-health / maternal / family-health nurses and GPs are meant to include hip-checks during a child’s recommended 1-4week, 6-8week, and 6-9 month check-ups. All these hips-checks are part of a physical once-over, and are pretty quick to perform; they often occur without the parent realising what the health professional is doing.
The physical checks are also referred to as a clinical examination or manual test. The specific names for the tests that check for healthy hips are the Barlow test, Ortolani test and Abduction / Galeazzi test. More information about these can be found via the following links to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website;
Once walking, checks are also made while the child is walking (undressed). This allows for the health professional to look for the small tell-tale signs that can be difficult to see with clothing on.
Ultrasounds and X-rays for hip dysplasia
For children with no risk factors, whose hip-checks are A-okay, no further tests are needed beyond the regular physical checks throughout their first year of life. Newborns who have the risk factors for hip dysplasia should be referred for an ultrasound at six-weeks of age, even if the physical checks appear okay. Some newborns who fit the risk factors clearly show signs of hip dysplasia from birth and can therefore be diagnosed and start treatment sooner than six-weeks of age.
A diagnosis of hip dysplasia is confirmed by ultrasound in infants less than 4-6 months, and by X-ray for babies/toddlers over 4-6 months. More information about ultrasounds and X-rays can be found via the following links to the RadiologyInfo.org website;
Point to remember
Due to the developmental nature of hip dysplasia, it said to be possible to onset any time from birth until walking independently.
Which test is used, depends on a lot of things, the age of the child is a big factor. Each test works best on a certain age group.
If you are confused, you are well within your rights to ask if the checks have been done and they findings from them. If you know your child falls in the risk factors for hip dysplasia make sure they have an ultrasound at six-weeks of age.