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Sometimes known as congenital hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, development dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is where the ball and socket joint of the hips don't correctly form in young children or babies.

Our hip is where the top of the thigh bone joins our pelvis in cup and ball joint configuration. DDH is where the socket is too shallow for the ball to sit, resulting in a loose fit. In severe cases, the hip joint may dislocate.

1 or 2 in 1,000 babies born may have DDH that requires treatment, and it is more common in girls than boys.

More Information

Contact your GP as soon as you notice your child develops any of the following hip dysplasia symptoms:

  • One leg drags behind when they crawl
  • Restricted movement in one leg when changing their nappy
  • Uneven skin folds in the buttocks or thighs
  • One leg appears longer
  • Developing an abnormal 'waddling' walk, a limp or walking on toes

A newborn physical examination will be carried out within 72 hours of giving birth that will include a check of your baby's hips. Between six and eight weeks another hip examination is typically conducted. These checks involve the gentle manipulation of your baby's hip joint.

Within a few weeks of birth, an ultrasound scan if: -

  • A family history of childhood hip problems
  • The baby was born in the breech position
  • You have had twins or a multiple births
  • The baby was born prematurely
  • The hip feels unstable

Sometimes a baby's hip stabilises on its own before the scan is due.

The exact cause is unknown but related to baby's development.

Pavlik harness
A fabric splint that secures baby's hips in a stable position and allows normal development.

If the Pavlik harness does not work or baby is diagnosed after six months with DDH, a surgical technique is known as reduction may be used. The procedure involves placing the ball of the femur back into the hip socket.

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