Health Check: How to swaddle a baby safely

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The practice of wrapping or swaddling babies is seen all over the world. But it needs to be done properly - and doctors are warning that tight swaddling which straightens the legs can increase the risk of developing hip problems.

At a clinic in Southampton in the south of England up to 100 babies are seen at the weekly clinic where hips are screened for dysplasia. This is a condition where the cup which holds the "ball" at the end of the leg bone is too shallow to grip it properly. The joint can become dislocated in the most extreme cases.

One baby, Ella, has a shallow hip socket and her parents have been advised that she must wear a Pavlik harness, day and night, for 6 weeks. It will hold her legs in the correct position for her hips to develop normally. She'll then be gradually weaned off the harness, with the fit being checked every week. Professor Nicholas Clarke says that this treatment is effective in 85% of babies with hip dysplasia.

STEPS: UK charity supporting families with hip and lower limb problems

International Hip Dysplasia Institute's Safe Swaddling video link

BBC World Service - Science - Health Check

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