Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a health problem of the hip joint. It’s when the joint hasn’t formed normally, so it doesn’t work as it should. DDH is present at birth. It is more common in girls than boys.
In a normal hip joint, the top (head) of the thighbone (femur) fits snugly into the hip socket. In a child with DDH, the hip socket is shallow. As a result, the head of the femur may slip in and out. It may dislocate. This means it moves partly or completely out of the hip socket.
A combination of things may lead to DDH. It may be partly genetic. DDH tends to run in families. It may also be partly environmental, such as:
First-born babies are at higher risk because the uterus is small and there is limited room for the baby to move. That may affect how the hip develops. Other risk factors are:
The following are the most common symptoms of DDH. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each baby. They can include:
The symptoms of DDH may seem like other health problems of the hip. Make sure your baby sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
DDH is sometimes noted at birth. A healthcare provider screens newborn babies in the hospital for this hip problem before they go home. But DDH may not be discovered until later checkups.
Your baby’s healthcare provider makes the diagnosis of DDH with a physical exam. During the exam, he or she asks about your baby’s birth history and whether other family members have DDH.
Your baby may also need these tests:
Treatment will depend on your baby’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
The goal of treatment is to put the head of the femur back into the socket of the hip so that the hip can develop normally. Treatment choices vary for babies. They may include:
If DDH is found early, many babies do well with the Pavlik harness, and if needed, casting. Some babies may need one or more surgeries as they grow because the hip can dislocate again. If DDH is left untreated, a child may develop differences in leg length and a duck-like gait. Later in life, he or she may have pain or arthritis in the hip.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: