Hip Dysplasia in Babies

Developmental dysplasia of the hip or “clicky hips” is a hip-joint condition in infants where the hip does not fit properly into the hip socket. Find out how to check for signs of hip dysplasia in infants and the treatments available to correct this developmental disorder.

Developmental dysplasia of the hip, or DDH, is a term commonly used to refer to instability or looseness of the hip joint in infants.  

The hip socket may be shallower than normal and not fully formed at birth. Therefore, the hip does not fit properly and securely into the hip socket. 

With DDH, the hip is either described as subluxable or dislocatable.  
A subluxable hip is where the ball of the hip joint is able to move freely and loosely in the socket
A dislocatable hip is where the ball of hip joint slides in and out of the socket  

Symptoms and Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Infants

Clicky hip/stiff hip joint 
Unequal leg length
Uneven skin folds on infant’s bottom 
Limping, with/without pain on the affected side  

Hip Dysplasia Risk Factors 

Being female 
Breech birth 
Intrauterine packaging problems due to the baby being crowded inside the uterus (more common among firstborn babies, big babies or babies weighing more than 4kg at birth, and babies with decreased surrounding fluid space inside the womb) 

Hip Dysplasia Complications 

Unequal leg length
Gait anomalies 

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Infants

Normally, the child will undergo non-surgical treatment to maintain the position of the hip in correct alignment.  

An abduction splint or Pavlik Harness helps to keep the hips in the correct position. The splint/harness has to be worn for about three to six months. Your child will be reviewed regularly during this time to ensure that the splint fits well.  

If the hip does not move into correct position with the use of a splint or harness, surgical methods may be used to realign the hip. After surgery, a plaster cast will be used to maintain the correct position. 

Tests and Diagnosis for Hip Dysplasia in Infants 

Ultrasound scan 
Orthopaedic assessment 

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