Experts are now warning that swaddling might actually be harmful to babies
The practice of swaddling babies has increased in popularity in Western countries over the last decade, with many parents claiming this helps their babies sleep better.
However, many experts are now warning this could actually harm babies after studies show there has been a rather steep increase in babies and young children being diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
The risk associated with swaddling was highlighted last year in The Medical Journal of Australia, with an article on the matter reading:
"There is growing concern among the orthopaedic fraternity in North America, the UK and Australia that a resurgence in the popularity of swaddling, including the increased use of "swaddling cocoons" (which force the lower limbs into extension), places children at risk of late diagnosed [hip dysplasia]."
The authors explained there had been an increase in the late diagnosis of infants with hip dysplasia in several Australian states, and went on to list the rather severe medical procedures this condition can lead to. "This includes increased likelihood of surgery, more invasive surgical procedures, longer hospital stays, and early osteoarthritis of the hip, as well as increased health care costs."
Nicole Williams, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, recently explained to the Sydney Morning Herald there were a number of risk factors associated with hip dysplasia.
"These include having a family history, female babies, first born, breech presentation, large babies," she said. "Babies who are wrapped up or swaddled with their legs held tightly together and out straight also have a higher risk of [hip dysplasia] and this should be avoided."
The expert also went on to say that, in contrast, rates of the condition were "very low" in cultures where babies are carried with their legs wrapped around their mother and flexed into an "M" position.
In Western Australia, the rate of babies and young children treated for hip dysplasia has almost tripled in the years between 2010 and 2014, numbers which many professionals put down to an increase in parents choosing to swaddle.
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