Hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), occurs in three out of every 1,000 children. How should your child travel by car if he/she has hip dysplasia? From "Children's Road Safety", the Accident Prevention and Road Safety department of Fundación MAPFRE, we talked to Dr Gaspar González Moran, the head of the Pediatric Trauma and Orthopedics Department at the La Paz Hospital in Madrid, who offered some recommendations.
Hip dysplasia is particularly common in newborns, occurring most frequently in girls and above all in the left hip. It refers to the abnormal development of the joint between the head of the femur and the hip cavity (a ball-and-socket joint) which causes the head of the femur to dislocate.
If the head of the femur and the socket it is supposed to sit in do not fit together, the bone tends to be displaced. In some of the more serious cases, the bone stays outside its socket permanently.
The treatments for children vary according to the child's age and the seriousness of the disorder. These can range from short-term postural recommendations (such as sleeping face-up with the legs open or carrying the child piggy-back, to wearing different types of prostheses or even surgery (in the most serious cases).
TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN WITH HIP DYSPLASIA
Dr Gaspar González Moran, head of the Pediatric Trauma and Orthopedics department of the La Paz Hospital, points out that "in general, the recommended position is with the legs separated and the hips and knees bent."
Conversely, you should avoid any positions with the legs together and stretched out straight. "You should therefore choose a seat that is wide enough to allow the legs to be separated," he notes.
Should you be using a special child restraint system? According to the doctor, this depends on whether the child is wearing some kind of device such as a harness, prosthesis or plaster cast. In the first case, you need to look for a seat which "as well as fulfilling the usual safety requirements is also big enough to carry a child wearing a harness," he says.
Indeed, there are currently "special devices on the market for children with plaster casts who cannot fit in conventional child seats. In this case, the child could travel lying down instead of sitting up, secured by the harness which is attached to the locking mechanisms of the seat belts in the back seat," he recommends.
As mentioned earlier, there are different treatments for hip dysplasia. Non-surgical treatments include devices which keep the hip in a stable position (legs open and slightly bent) while surgical processes are intended to ensure the anatomical coupling of the hip joint. "There is nothing to stop these children traveling, provided they follow the recommendations given above, but it is not advisable for long trips."
In the case of surgery, "you should follow the pointers given above, depending on whether the patient is immobilized with a plaster cast or not," says the Head of the Pediatric Trauma and Orthopedics department of the La Paz Hospital.
SPECIAL SEATS FOR CHILDREN WITH HIP DYSPLASIA
We have already mentioned the need to use especially wide child seats for children with hip dysplasia.
There are various options on the market, such as the Opal child seat by Bébé Confort, designed especially for these children, which features a wider space between the legs and additional back support.
This is used initially as a rear-facing seat until the age of 15-18 months. Afterwards it can be fitted facing forwards.
This seat is not on sale, however. The manufacturer offers the option of renting one through its Customer Service department while the child is receiving treatment. You can find further information here.
We recommend the following infographic on this subject: ‘Transporting children with limbs in plaster casts’.