Pip passed all but one of his 6 week checks with flying colours.
The small matter of a bit of uneven baby chub and what may or may not be a small click has earned him a referral up to the big hospital. And why, well as the newborn skinniness faded, and those lovely rolls of baby chub started to fill in, we started to see that the deep creases on his thighs aren’t symmetrical the one on his right leg is noticeably further down his leg than the one on his left. It can be just a quirk of the baby, or it can be an indicator of hip dysplasia.
Essentially a nice normal hip socket should look like a snuggly fitting ‘ball and socket’ joint. But babies are flexible little things and they get flooded with the nice ligament softening hormones during pregnancy and birth just as much as their Mummies do and sometimes that can mean that their hips don’t develop quite as they should. They might be born with a dislocated hip, it might be dislocatable and pop in and out, or it might just be that their hips are a little loose in the socket. Obviously the more severe presentations are going to be picked up at birth but sometimes it’s not so obvious, which is why they check again at the six week check up, and why it’s always worth being aware of the symptoms even then.
A lack of flexibility, one leg longer than the other and asymmetry in thigh and bottom creases are all indicating factors. Or they can just as easily be indications that your baby likes stretching one leg when you try to measure him, isn’t very keen on having his nappy changed and/or has decided to grow that way just to keep you on your toes!
It’s one of those things that if there is a problem, the earlier it’s caught, the easier it is to treat; it being so much easier to manipulate soft little baby joints than toddler legs, and babies don’t want to run around either!
In our case, our GP, the medical student sitting in for the day, and I all think that it’s probably just a quirk of Pip; his movement and everything else is great. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and so in a few weeks we’ll be off up to Coventry for an ultrasound and then a consultant appointment.
It’s all very familiar because Elma was exactly the same, right down to the location of her thigh creases.
She wasn’t chubby enough for it to be noticeable by her six week check, or perhaps I just wasn’t looking for it, but I noticed at around 10 weeks, took her to the GP and we were referred up to the hospital. All of her manipulation seemed fine, there were no clicks and she’d been passed at her 6 week check but even then I alternated between being convinced that it was all going to be fine, and certain that she would need treatment and I was a terrible mother for not noticing sooner.
Her scans showed beautiful deep snug hip sockets and we were discharged with smiles all round. But I must have looked slightly guilty at taking up their time with a perfectly healthy little girl because the consultant stopped me in the middle of a garbled sentence about mummy-paranoia. Because as far as he was concerned they would far rather see a clinic full of babies that don’t need any help than miss the one that does.
With a bit of luck we’ll be another of those time wasting healthy baby appointments and it will be nothing more than a childhood quirk.
I’m no medical expert, so if you’re curious about the indicators for hip dysplasia firstly if you’re in the UK there’s a little list in the baby Red Book, or alternatively, STEPS has a great guide to baby hip health that sets out what they check, why they check it and what treatments can be used to solve any problems that is well worth a read.