A GROUP of northern suburbs mothers wants to get people talking about hip issues this week.
Heathridge resident Jemma Bailey said she and several other mothers had children with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), commonly known as hip dysplasia.
To mark Healthy Hips Week from April 10-16 and support Healthy Hips Australia, they have shared their children’s stories.
Miss Bailey’s son Finn was born in the frank breech position, with his feet by his head and his bottom presenting first, in September 2013.
“This increased his risk of developing DDH as it is one of the five known risk factors,” she said.
“Finn was tested at the hospital by paediatrician for hip instability, which showed no signs of ‘clicky hips’ but was given a referral for an ultrasound at eight weeks.
“His follow up check up at six weeks by both child health nurse and GP all were normal. His ultrasound of his hips at eight weeks at Princess Margaret Hospital was also normal.
“Despite this, it was recommended Finn have an x-ray at six months.
“Finn had his x-ray at PMH on April 7, 2014 – he showed signs of DDH as he did not have the appropriate level of socket formation.”
Miss Bailey said Finn’s hips did not dislocate and were never at risk of dislocating.
“The main issue in Finn’s type of DDH was the ligaments were not holding the ball of the femur tight enough into the hip socket to form a nice rounded hip joint– as a result his hip joints were forming a flat edge,” she said.
“If this was not corrected as a baby, eventually the action of walking over time would cause damage to the hip joint possibly resulting in arthritis and worse case needing hip replacement at an early age.”
That day, Finn’s treatment with a Correctio brace started, and Miss Bailey was told she needed to wait six weeks to see a consultant.
“He was required to wear a brace, 23 hours of the day (and) only allowed one hour off for nappy changes and bath time,” she said.
“I went home in a state of bewilderment. The start of my DDH journey was complicated as he no longer fitted comfortably or safely in his pram, car seat or highchair.
“He was seen by an occupational therapist to add extra padding to his car seat and pram.
“Breastfeeding was awkward and complicated. Sleep was non-existent for the first few days as he was unable to get comfortable in the Correctio brace.”
Miss Bailey said they changed to a Rhino Cruiser brace, better suited to his age.
She recalled feeling emotional and overwhelmed during that time due to a lack of information about her son’s condition.
“Most of the information I could find was aimed at hip dysplasia in dogs, not the day-to-day care of a baby or child in a hip brace,” she said.
“Finn’s diagnosis was considered a late diagnosis as the ideal time for treating DDH is from birth to three months.
“Calcium begins to deposit in babies hip joints and continues to deposit until the age of two.
“Bracing after this time has not been shown to be beneficial.”
Miss Bailey said Finn continued to wear a brace until he was 14-and-a-half months old, then wore it at night and during naps until he reached 20 months.
“Finn learned to crawl, roll, climb in the brace,” she said.
“He began walking within one week of coming out of the brace during daytime.”
Siblings all affected by hip dysplasia
BUTLER’S Alicia Wright said all three of her children had hip dysplasia.
“My two older sons – now six and four – were treated for developmental dysplasia of the hip (and) are now healthy active children,” she said.
“My daughter Lily (18 months) has had it a little tougher and is still ongoing with her treatment.
“Having a family history of DDH, her being a breech baby and female, we knew that the ‘hippie hips brace’ as we refer to it at home would be brought out the cupboard again.
“Lily had an ultrasound at four-weeks-old and was immediately put in her harness to begin her treatment.
“This being round three of the hip brace in our family, I thought I would be OK with the situation, but it never gets easier seeing your baby strapped up in this medical device that makes it so awkward to hold them in, to change their nappy in, and feed them in.”
Mrs Wright said after 12 weeks of treatment, they found out Lily was on the borderline of the normal range, so she could have six months out of the brace, then be reviewed to see if her hips had continued to develop into the socket on their own.
“Just before Christmas 2015 we got bad news – Lily’s hips had regressed and she was going to be braced again,” she said.
“I was devastated – Lily had just started to walk.
“Since being fitted with her new brace she has been a real trooper; it does not slow her down and she continues to meet her milestones.
“We are now down to wearing the brace for naptime only.”
Mrs Wright said they hoped the angles of her daughter’s hips would have improved by their next follow-up appointment in a few weeks’ time so she would not need surgery.
“Lily’s journey has had its ups and downs but I am grateful that there is treatment available and a growing support for this condition,” she said.
Lena Walsh, of Quinns Rocks, said her second child Elijah was not born in breech, but his left leg was hyper-extended to his face while in the uterus.
“This unusual presentation at birth caused for neonatologist to do an ultrasound,” she said.
“His hips were immature and required a Correctio brace for 23 hours (a day) for 12 weeks.
“Elijah’s hip joints are still being reviewed by doctor Anthony Geddes at Joondalup Health Campus.”
Cuddles and wearing cute outfits harder in a brace
WANNEROO resident Genelle Findler said last month, her nine-weeks-old daughter Jasmine was put into a correction harness that she has to wear for 23-and-a-half hours a day.
“This gives us half an hour a day without it and we use that opportunity to give her a bath,” she said.
“When we were given the harness it was very overwhelming and honestly took a toll on my emotions initially.
“Here was our new beautiful and happy baby girl, who suddenly was crying and clearly upset at being put in something that reduced her freedom.
“Slowly she got used to the harness and has now adapted well.”
Ms Findler said she struggled with it the most as it made doing things with her daughter harder.
“I can’t cuddle her close like I used to; she can’t wear any of the gorgeous outfits my friends and family bought for her and breast feeding has been a challenge due to the way I need to hold her when feeding,” she said.
“The Facebook support group (DDH Parent support Western Australia) has been wonderful.
“I’ve been handed down clothes and sleeping bags from friends and family who have all been through this journey.
“Jasmine is expected to be in the brace for a minimum of three months so we look forward to the day she is brace-free.
“Each day it does get a little easier so hopefully before we know it this day will come when I can hold her close again and dress her up in whatever I like.”
Kinross resident Danielle Sayer’s daughter aaliyah was diagnosed with DDH at six-weeks-old.
“During my pregnancy she was breech until 28 weeks and birthed head down,” she said.
“During routine pediatrician check after birth he felt her hips as ‘loose’ and sent us to an ultrasound.”
Miss Sayer said they were referred to Princess Margaret Hospital, where she was diagnosed with mild DDH and put in a brace for 23 hours a day.
“At six months her hips had improved and we were moved to night bracing only,” she said.
“We are now awaiting our 10month x-ray to see if there has been more improvement.”
Healthy Hips Australia
PERTH mother and occupational therapist Sarah Twomey founded Healthy Hips Australia in mid-2014.
Ms Twomey had been frustrated at the lack of practical, useful information available for parents of children with hip dysplasia.
The mother-of-two was bewildered when her eldest daughter Eve’s two-month stint in a hip harness turned into a two-year ordeal.
While her younger daughter Maya’s hip journey has been easier, she believes that increasing support, education and resources in Australia will benefit all people impacted by the condition, along with the community-based health professionals working with them.
The volunteer-driven, non-profit organisation aims to increase the availability and accessibility of resources, education and support for people working with and affected by hip dysplasia.
See www.healthyhipsaustralia.org.au for more information.