Australian doctors have issued a warning about swaddling infants, after a study indicated the popular calming method could lead to joint development issues like "clicky hip" later in life.

The wrapping technique, which has been praised for soothing a distressed baby, and preventing sudden death syndrome, sees the infant tightly bound in a blanket so their limbs are restrained and unable to move.

But according to research which has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the swaddling could be causing joint development issues, including "clicky hip", to form.

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According to the study, an increase in late diagnosed developmental dysplasia of the hip have been seen in South Australia, with reports from New South Wales and Western Australia confirming the increasing incidence is occurring nationally.

It also found that the rate of late diagnosis for children under three months of age in South Australia, had risen from 3.5 per cent of all DDH cases in babies born between 1988 to 2003, to 11.5 per cent of all DDH cases in babies born between 2003 to 2009.

"There is growing concern among the orthopedic fraternity in North America, the UK and Australia that a resurgence in the popularity of swaddling, including the increased use of 'swaddling cocoons' places children at risk of late diagnosed DDH," the study says.

The study says babies need to be able to move their legs naturally and freely as well as bend them in a "froglike" position.