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Image / Self / Real-life Stories

10 things I learnt when my baby was diagnosed with hip dysplasia

by Amanda Cassidy
09th Aug 2020

Millie Mackintosh has spoken out about the ’emotionally challenging’ week she’s faced as her baby daughter is diagnosed with what is sometimes known as ‘clicky hips’. Amanda Cassidy writes about her own experience.

I couldn’t understand what they were telling me or how bad it really was but the tiny white harness the doctors presented me with was enough to make me reconsider if my perfect newborn was so perfect after all.

Giving birth is an emotionally turbulent time. But being faced with a scary-sounding diagnosis that involves the minature limbs of your child can be overwhelming.

This week, Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh opened up to her 1.4 million followers about her “shock and sadness” when she was told her daughter Sienna would be treated for hip dysplasia.

It means her baby will have to wear a special harness for six to 12 weeks in order to treat the dysplasia which can sometimes make it pretty tricky to cuddle and breastfeed.


Describing the situation as “shocking” Millie posted the news on Instagram explaining that “It’s been an emotional few days over here…Sienna had a routine hip scan at 6 weeks because she was breech from 28 weeks onwards. It showed one hip socket was under developed but I was reassured it was likely to sort itself out by 12 weeks, but they booked her in for another scan just to make sure.

Despite being naturally worried initially, I put it to the back of my mind and got on with things. But when we went for our second scan, I was shocked and saddened to learn she has in fact got developmental hip dysplasia and the treatment is to wear a special harness all the time for 6-12 weeks.”

The reality TV star pointed out that the news isn’t as drastic as she’d initially expected: ‘Apparently, it has a 90% chance of totally correcting her hip, so she hopefully shouldn’t need surgery or have any issues with her movement, so we are remaining positive and grateful that we found out early.’


I’d found out myself just three days after I gave birth so before we’d even brought her home, my little one was wrapped firmly in her stiff medical brace.  The hip has a ball and socket joint. In a baby, with a normal hip, the ball fits firmly into the socket. In babies with development dysplasia, the hip joint hasn’t formed completely and the socket part is too shallow.

I discovered that if you don’t get it treated your child may have hip problems in later life. In our case, we were referred to Temple Street Children’s hospital where my daughter was put into a Pavlick harness.

This soft brace is designed to gently position your baby’s hips so they are aligned correctly at the joint and to keep the hip joints secure so your baby’s little bone gets a chance to grow and secure the ball and socket joint.

We were told not to take it off and we had to come into Temple Street each week to bathe the baby and the nurses would help us put it back on. It didn’t hurt my little one at all — but it was really cumbersome for dressing her and changing her.

My second daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was born a few years later (it can be congenital) but this time her harness was removable at home.

While doctors usually do treat this condition in six-week stints, an x-ray will decide if the baby needs the harness again for another 6 weeks or maybe they recommend having it just at night. It is important to know this as we initially thought that once the first six week were over the brace would be out of our lives forever.

‘Clicky hips’

Hip Dysplasia used to be called ‘clicky hips; because if the hip is very shallow baby’s hips can click in and out quite easily (it doesn’t hurt them at all).

In days gone by, parents would just put extra nappies on their child to keep their hips aligned in the ‘froggy position’  – that is hips wide and legs bent upwards. My daughter had been breech and chances are increased that your baby could have hip dysplasia because of the positioning in the womb.

Doctors explained to us that girls are more likely to be diganosed with this condition and it is a good idea to ask your mum, aunts, grannies if they had a history of it in the family. My sister had hip problems, my husband’s sister had ‘clicky hips’ and both my daughters got it (my son didn’t).

We were also told along the way that doctors sometimes overtreat for this as a preventative method  – so often they treat it even if hips are only slightly shallow, just in case.

Luckily, my first daughter never had any issues after 12 weeks in the brace. I was dying to get it off so I could put her in tights and dresses. It is hard to move them in and out of the car seat with the chunky brace and people do look twice. My second daughter is now still being monitored at Temple Street and we will soon find out if she will need an operation on her hips or not. She came out of the brace after 12 weeks because the risk of dislocation is minimum at that stage.

Her hips are still quite shallow so she is borderline about getting the operation. We are hoping she won’t need it (it’s quite a minor surgery and very common) and usually happens before they are 2 and a half.

It takes a little getting used to at first to present my newborn to others with a funny looking harness. To be honest, I did feel quite self-conscious out and about as many people don’t know what it is.

Like everything when it comes to parenting, my advice is to read up about it so you are prepared. Bear in mind it is usually a short 6-12-week treatment plan. Your doctor, midwife and public health nurse will always check for it so don’t worry about trying to spot it yourself.

Like Millie, it was distressing to see my daughter trying and failing to wiggle her legs, but she is now a lovely energetic 9-year-old and is fascinated by the pictures and stories we tell her about the ordeal.

Images via Instagram 

Read more: Children are less resilliant and it is all down to our parenting style

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