Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)

What is DDH and How is it Treated?

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH), commonly called hip dysplasia, is a problem with how the thigh bone and pelvis fit together. The thigh bone has a ball-shaped top which is supposed to fit into a cup-shaped area on the pelvis. The exact problem can vary between children but may include:

  • Ball of thigh is loose inside the pelvis cup, making the hip unstable
  • Ball moves easily out of the cup, causing dislocation of the hip
  • Ball and cup do not meet at all
  • Cup is improperly shaped

Treatment of infants usually involves wearing a cloth harness for 6 weeks, which is much less invasive than treatment options for older children, which may include surgery.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Hip Dysplasia?

Even if you child has all of the risk factors below, he or she is still unlikely to develop hip dysplasia. However, your pediatrician will want to keep an eye on your child and treat any issues sooner rather than later.

Risk factors include:

  • Breech birth (feet or bottom first)
  • First born child
  • Female
  • Family history of DDH
  • Low levels of amniotic fluid during pregnancy
  • Late delivery — birth after 42 weeks of pregnancy
  • Birthweight greater than 8 pounds 13 ounces (4 kg)
  • Swaddling legs tightly — don’t do it!

When Should a Child Have Surgery for Hip Dysplasia?

Any child who has hip dysplasia can be helped with treatment, which includes the following options:

  • Infants with mild hip dysplasia caught early may only need to wear a cloth harness for 6 weeks
  • Infants and toddlers with more advanced DDH may require surgery to position the bone in the socket
  • Older children may also need surgery if the hips are too shallow and there’s danger of the hip dislocating