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When faced with an unhappy baby, new parents all over the world turn to the practice of swaddling — wrapping the baby up tightly in a blanket to mimic the feeling of being in the womb.
In North America, nine in 10 infants are now swaddled in their first six months after birth.
But a new study out today in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood warns against swaddling the wrong way, because it can cause hip dysplasia.
Study author Nicholas Clarke, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Southampton University hospital in the U.K., writes:
‘Safe swaddling’ with appropriate devices should be promoted because it is recognised that traditional swaddling is a risk factor for DDH [developmental dysplasia of the hip]. In order to allow for healthy hip development, legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural development of the hip joints. The babies’ legs should not be tightly wrapped in extension and pressed together. Commercial products for swaddling should have a loose pouch or sack for the babies’ legs and feet, allowing plenty of hip movement and hip flexion and abduction.