A child born with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) has a displaced or dislocated hip. The ball on the top of the femur (thigh bone) does not fit into the hip socket and is located outside of the socket. The ligaments that bind the ball and socket together stretch. The hip becomes unstable and loose.
The exact cause of DDH is not known. But, how the baby is positioned in the womb may be a factor. Maternal hormones and genetics may also play a role.
These factors increase your baby’s chance of developing DDH:
Tell the doctor if your baby has any of these risk factors.
If your baby has any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to DDH. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell the doctor if your baby has any of these:
DDH more commonly affects the left hip. But sometimes both hip joints are affected. The doctor may detect the condition when the baby is born. In other cases, DDH is not diagnosed until the baby starts walking.
During your baby’s first physical exam , the doctor will screen for DDH. He will gently manipulate the hip area to see if it dislocates. This would be signaled by a clunking or popping noise. Doctors can also check for DDH by placing the baby on his back and checking the height of the knees.
Other tests that may be ordered include:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. Depending on your baby’s age and the severity of the condition, treatment options include:
If your baby was diagnosed with DDH at birth, the doctor may not treat the condition until the baby is older than two weeks. This is because DDH improves on its own in some cases.
The doctor will follow-up with hip exams and x-rays until your child is done growing.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Institute of Child Health
Canadian Pediatric Society
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Last reviewed December 2008 by
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