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Swaddling of Babies Raises Fear of Hip Abnormalities

Update Date: Oct 29, 2013 04:10 PM EDT
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Swaddling is an old tradition in which parents or caretakers wrap infants in a blanket or cloth. This type of practice greatly restricts an infant's movement, which could lead to health complications. Based on recent numbers, there might be a resurgence of swaddling, which raises concerns about the health of these babies. According to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, swaddling can lead to developmental hip problems for the infant.

According to the press release, Professor Nicholas Clarke explained that swaddling might be making a come back because parents believe that this technique can soothe an infant. There is some evidence that swaddling can induce sleep, calm down excessive crying and soothe colic. On the other hand, there is also evidence that swaddling is bad for an infant's hip development. The report explained that swaddling forces the infant's hips to straighten and shift forward. Being wrapped in this position for months could cause misalignment, which could then increase the risk of osteoarthritis and hip replaced later on in life.

Clarke, who is from Southampton University Hospital, believes that swaddling would be okay if parents do not tightly bundle their infants. He also stated that as long as the blanket does not prevent the infants' legs from bending up and outwards at the hips, the baby should be fine. But, parents must be extra careful if they choose to swaddle.

Roughly 90 percent of infants living in North America are being swaddled during their first six months of life. In the United Kingdom, the demand for clothing that enable swaddling has risen by 61 percent from 2010 to 2011.

The report was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

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