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The Pavlik harness

Why does my baby need to wear a harness?

Your baby has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, which means that your baby’s hip is either underdeveloped, unstable or can be relocated from a dislocated position. This is a relatively common condition, occurring in 4 in 1000 babies. It is more frequently seen in girls, breech presentations, in those with a family history of hip dysplasia, in larger babies and in first born children. The harness is used to stabilise your baby’s hip.

How does the harness work?

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The harness holds the hip in a reduced position that allows the head of the femur (ball) to mould the acetabulum (cup), deepening it and resulting in a stable hip.

Illustration of baby in a Pavlik harness where their feet are held in place with a chest strap

Can I remove the harness to have my baby weighed?

No, the harness should not be removed. It is important that the harness is only applied by an experienced clinician. If your baby is needing to be weighed, remove clothing and nappy but keep the harness on. The weight of the harness can then be removed.

Your child’s harness weighs: 80, 110, or 125 grams.

How do I use the harness?

The Pavlik harness will be applied in a one stop clinic after the ultrasound scan and necessary adjustments made to the shoulder and leg straps to hold the hips in the best position for proper hip development. The harness must remain on the baby for 24 hours a day to achieve the best results.

You should not remove the harness to clean or bath your child.

The harness is designed to allow your child’s nappy to be changed without having to undo the harness. It is important to keep the hip or knee creases clean and dry at all times. If they appear red or sore apply some Sudocrem at each nappy change. Please let us know if the redness hasn’t passed within 2 days.

When will I be reviewed next?

Your child will be seen every 2 weeks for a brace change. At this appointment there may be an opportunity to wash your baby. Please bring your own items to be used for cleaning or drying. Your baby will usually be scanned at 2 weekly intervals until the hip is stable, which usually is in 2 weeks, and then maintained for a further 4 weeks, when you will also see the orthotist to have the harness changed. It is the consultant’s decision as to when the harness has been successful and can be removed.

What about clothing or using slings while in brace?

Loose clothing should be worn over the brace that don’t affect the positioning in brace such as babygrows, vests or dresses. Slings are fine to use that support the weight of the legs and keep the legs apart, with baby facing towards the wearer.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ORT6

Resource Type: Article

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Orthotic Department: 0114 271 7271

Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 4.30pm

Email: scn-tr.orthotics@nhs.net


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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