14/08/2014 12:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

DDH: A Letter To All Expectant Parents, Or Those Of You With Newborns

DDH: A letter to all expectant parents, or those of you with newborns

Dear expectant parents, or those of you with newborns,

I am sorry, I am that annoying woman, the one who wants to act like they know better than the health visitor, the one who always has something to say.

I act out of concern, out of wisdom, out of fifteen months of worry.

For fifteen months I have watched my two-year old daughter undergo intensive surgery, be bound in a half body cast and then learn to walk again. I missed the toddling stage with her, she was never 'into everything', it took her so long to learn how to walk and when she finally did we operated on her and took that skill away.

My kid was a victim of late diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia.

Remember when you took your baby for a six-week check and they did the clicky hip test? Yup that is the one, that is when any babies with hips out of joint should be diagnosed if it wasn't picked up at birth. Trouble is, it isn't always.

Babies who are diagnosed within the first two months as having Hip Dysplasia (a dislocated or sublaxed hip-joint) are treated by Palvik Harness. I imagine this to be very distressing for a mother of a newborn, the only comfort I can offer is this type of non surgical treatment offers an 85-95% success rate and doesn't involve a surgeon's knife.

My health visitor didn't know what Hip Dysplasia was, my GP missed it at the six-week check, when BB was admitted for epilepsy at eight months she was given a full physical examination; her DDH was missed. BB underwent countless appointments because of her seizures, at each one we said we worried about her slow development; she never crawled, she didn't sit unaided until nearly nine months, she walked at seventeen months. She was examined physically, including her hips, at every check up.

She had all the classic signs of DDH.

Uneven creases on her buttocks.
A significant leg length difference.
Her left leg did not flex into the classic 'frog' position.

Now, with the beauty of hindsight, I can spot a case of DDH a mile away. So I am sorry expectant parent or parent of a newborn, but in this condition I consider myself to more of an expert than your GP or Health visitor.

I am not alone in this, it is not just my GP, my Pediatrician and my Health visitor; Hip Dysplasia is so unheard of there is almost no education to on it to first time parents.
If you are 'high risk' you may be offered an ultra sound, high risk is a first-born female or a breech baby. My daughter? She was my third child and was delivered by an emergency c-section.

When I see you and your baby please don't be alarmed if I flex her legs, check her creases, I am merely trying to prevent the future that my beautiful baby has had to survive. If I try to offer advice on swaddling, carrying your baby in a sling, and positioning them in a car seat, please don't write me off as overbearing, I just wish someone had been there to educate me.

I so desperately want you to know that some slings and harnesses and moulded seating items can inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position. I want to urge you to watch this video to see how to swaddle your baby safely.

I don't want you to spend your days watching your toddler limping towards you wondering how you could have prevented this.

I know like me, you would do anything for your children, so please for this week help me spread the word about Baby Hip Health Week.

And for us? We don't seem to be cured, after surgery last year my daughter still limps, she has not mastered jumping, she runs with a wobble that breaks my heart in two. She sees her pediatrician at the end of the month to discuss what happens next as physio failed her.

I hate to think I could have prevented this.
Early detection means early treatment.

The Mum to a DDH child.
Diagnosed Christmas 2011
Pemberton Osteotomy, plus blood transfusion February 2012
Spica Cast for three months
Broken femur April 2012
Cast Free May 2012
Still limping, present day.

Jane is a working Mum of three and has great hair. One of these things may not be true.
Blog: Northern Mum
Twitter: @JaneBlackmore