What is Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip?

Developmental dysplasia of the hip, or simply hip dysplasia, is a failure for the normal hip joint to form before birth. It may be caused by poor positioning of the legs in the womb. This doesn’t cause any pain to young children, but can cause a limp and osteoarthritis as the child grows. Hip dysplasia can be successfully treated, especially if diagnosed and treated in babies or young children.


In a normal hip, the upper end of the thigh bone (femur) is surrounded by the hip socket (acetabulum). In a dysplastic hip, there is an abnormality in the formation of either the head of the femur, the acetabulum, or the other supportive soft tissues. As a result, the contact between the femur and the acetabulum is loose and unstable, causing frequent hip dislocations. Hip dysplasia is more common in girls and people with who have family members with the condition. Within certain ethnic groups this condition tends to be more common, such as Native Americans and Laplanders. Other risk factors include being the first-born child or a breech baby.


Babies will usually have no symptoms of hip dysplasia, though it might be possible to see a difference in the length or appearance of their legs, hips and buttocks. Toddlers with hip dysplasia may walk later than other children, and children with hip dysplasia who have not been diagnosed may suffer hip pain and walk with a waddle, limp or bowed legs.


All babies should be tested for hip dysplasia in the first weeks of their life. This is usually done by a doctor assessing the movement of the hips, or, increasingly, by ultrasound. X-rays of the hip joint can help to determine hip dysplasia in cases where there is uncertainty.


Hip dysplasia is treated by placing the baby in a harness or brace for a period of a few months to keep the legs in the correct position to allow the hips to form normally. If this is not successful or the developmental dysplasia of the hip is diagnosed later in life, surgery is necessary to reconstruct the hip joint.

Other names for developmental dysplasia of the hip

  • Congenital hip dislocation
  • Congenital dysplasia of the hip
  • Congenital hip dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia

**What is‌ Developmental Dysplasia of ⁢the Hip (DDH)?**

**Q: What is ⁢Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)?**

**A:** Developmental Dysplasia of ⁣the Hip (DDH) ⁤is a condition ​where the hip joint ⁣does not‌ develop⁤ normally.​ The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint connecting the thigh bone (femur) ⁤to the pelvis (acetabulum). In DDH, the ball (head of the femur) does not fit snugly into the socket, causing instability or dislocation.

**Q: What causes DDH?**

**A:** The exact cause of DDH is unknown, but risk factors include:

* **Family history:** DDH tends to ‌run in families.

* ⁤**Female sex:** ⁤Girls are⁤ more likely to develop DDH than boys.

* **Firstborn child:** Firstborn children‍ are at a higher risk.

* **Breech presentation:** Babies who are⁤ positioned​ feet-first during pregnancy are more likely to have DDH.

* **Swaddling with legs together:** Tight ‍swaddling that restricts hip movement‌ can contribute to DDH.

**Q: What are the symptoms of⁢ DDH?**

**A:** Symptoms of DDH can vary depending on the severity, but may include:

* **Asymmetric leg ​folds:** One leg may have a deeper skin fold than the other.

* **Unequal leg length:** The affected leg may appear shorter.

* **Limping or difficulty walking:** Pain⁣ or discomfort may cause limping.

* **Outward turning of the ⁢feet:** The affected foot may turn outward.

*‌ **Delayed motor⁤ development:** The baby may be slower to reach milestones such as rolling over or crawling.

**Q: How is ⁤DDH diagnosed?**

**A:** DDH can be diagnosed through physical examination and imaging tests, such as:

* **Physical examination:** The doctor will assess‍ hip mobility, range of motion, and leg⁢ length.

* **Ultrasound:** An ultrasound can ⁤visualize the hip joint and determine the severity of DDH.

* **X-ray:** X-rays can confirm the diagnosis and provide information about bone alignment.

**Q: What are the treatment options for DDH?**

**A:** ‍Treatment for DDH‌ depends on the severity and age of the ⁢child. Options may ⁤include:

* **Pavlik⁢ harness:** This is ⁣a fabric harness that holds the baby’s legs in a specific position to promote hip joint development.

* ⁢**Spica cast:** A full-body cast that immobilizes the hips in a desired position.

* **Surgery:**⁤ In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reposition ⁢the hip joint.

**Q: What‍ are the complications of untreated DDH?**

**A:**⁢ Untreated DDH can lead to:

* **Hip dislocation:** The hip joint may become completely⁤ dislocated.

* **Pain and stiffness:** As the child grows, they may experience pain and difficulty moving​ the affected hip.

* **Joint damage:** Untreated DDH can lead to damage to the hip joint surfaces, causing arthritis.

* **Asymmetrical posture:** The affected hip may appear shorter, resulting in an uneven stance or gait.

**Q: Can DDH be prevented?**

**A:** While the exact cause of​ DDH is unknown, certain measures may help reduce the ‌risk:

* **Avoid tight swaddling:** Swaddle your‌ baby ​with the hips and knees apart.

* **Promote⁤ hip ​flexion:**‌ Encourage ​your⁣ baby to spend time‍ on their tummy and perform gentle leg exercises.

* **Regular checkups:** Attend regular well-child checkups, especially if you have risk factors for DDH.

Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial for effective ‌treatment⁢ of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip. If you suspect your child may have DDH, consult a healthcare professional promptly for evaluation and ⁣appropriate care.


  1. Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a condition in which the hip joint does not develop properly. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the hip. DDH can occur in one or both hips and is more common in girls than boys.

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