Congenital orthopedic disorders are often the cause of severely impaired quality of life. To the delight of parents who have encountered these problems, the tissues of the newborn’s musculoskeletal system are still soft and flexible. This allows for a timely diagnosis thus preventing aggressive surgeries and a chance for a full recovery.
WHICH ARE THE MOST COMMON ORTHOPEDIC DISEASES IN THE NEWBORN?
Some orthopedic problems are noticed immediately after birth. Hip dysplasia is the most common orthopedic problem in newborns and therefore doctors are always on the look for it.
When a child has hip dysplasia, parents notice a difference in leg length. Another alarming symptom is when one leg is more difficult to flex when changing diapers. Thigh folds that are asymmetrical could indicate a problem. Children with hip dysplasia start walking later and usually limp.
Newborns are examined for hip dysplasia in the maternity ward, and later during checkups. If your pediatrician suspects your baby has hip dysplasia, they can recommend an ultrasound of the hips or an x-ray after the baby turns 4 months. Early diagnosis of hip dysplasia is essential to prevent its progression to luxation and possible surgical interventions in the future.
Risk factors for the presence of congenital orthopedic disease include: heredity, females, breech babies, twins, triplets, preterm birth, high birth weight, oligohydramnion (amniotic fluid deficiency).
Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, infections (rubella, chicken pox, cytomegalovirus), alcohol use and cigarettes during pregnancy could increase the risk of your baby having hip dysplasia.
This is why a healthy lifestyle and prevention of complications is so important during pregnancy.
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR HIP DYSPLASIA PREVENTION
The hip joints of the newborn develop by about 5-6 months of age. Diapers, wearing a kangaroo or sling can prevent hip dysplasia or luxation. The baby’s legs should not be stretched out (for example, when swaddling), as this impedes the development of the hip joints. An interesting fact is that this disease is almost never found in some African and Asian countries, where mothers carry their babies on their backs or hips.