Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip

What is Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip?

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a dislocation of the hip joint in a newborn baby. The hip is made of two parts: a rounded head or “ball” and cup-like “socket.” In some babies, the socket is too shallow and the ball slips out of place in part or completely. This may happen in one or both hips.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Causes

The cause of DDH is unknown. There are several risk factors that increase’s a baby risk of having DDH. These include:

  • Low levels of amniotic fluid (the protective liquid that surrounds the unborn baby) in the womb of the mother during pregnancy
  • Being the first child
  • Being female
  • Breech position during pregnancy, in which the baby's bottom is down
  • Family history of the disorder
  • Large birth weight

Hip dysplasia occurs in about 1 to 1.5 of 1,000 births.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Symptoms

Symptoms may be noticeable as soon as the baby is born or not show up until a child begins walking. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Uneven skin folds on the thigh or buttocks
  • One or both legs turn outward
  • One leg is shorter than the other
  • Lower back is rounded inward

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Diagnosis

The most common way to diagnose DDH is a physical exam of the hips by applying pressure and listening for clicking or popping sounds. However, since some cases of DDH may be mild, ultrasound and X-ray tests may be used. Multiple exams and tests are recommended. 

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Treatment

If hip dysplasia is diagnosed within six months after birth, it usually successfully treated with a brace or harness.  The brace or harness is less effective in older children. After six months, an older child will need to have a procedure called closed reduction, which manually puts the bone back into place. Another procedure is called open reduction where the hip is realigned during surgery. A surgeon may also deepen the hip socket or shorten the thigh bone. Even after treatment, a child may still have difference in leg lengths.

DDH will lead to further deterioration of the hip and arthritis, if untreated.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Self Care

One of the best ways to take care of a baby’s health if he or she has developmental dysplasia of the hip is to get an early diagnosis and take a proactive role in the treatment plan. Closely follow the doctor’s instructions to ensure that the corrective processes are most effective.