Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a problem with how a child's thigh bone fits into the cup-shaped area on the pelvis. Problems may include:
- The ball of the thigh is loose inside the cup of the pelvis, making the hip unstable
- The ball moves easily out of the cup, causing the hip to dislocate
- The ball and cup do not meet
- The cup is not shaped correctly
The Hip Joint
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DDH is caused by how the baby is positioned in the womb.
This problem is more common in newborns. It is also more common in girls. Things that may raise the risk are:
- Breech birth (feet first)
- Low levels of amniotic fluid during pregnancy
- Using incorrect swaddling positions
- Family history of DDH
DDH can make the hip unstable and loose. The problem is more common in the left hip, but both hip joints can also be affected. Symptoms may depend on the age of the child. Problems may be:
- Uneven folds in a newborn's thigh or hip
- Problems with motion and flexibility around the time a baby learns to crawl
- One leg that is shorter than the other
- Limping, lurching, walking on toes, or other unevenness when a child walks
DDH may be found when a baby is born or during a physical exam. The exam will focus on your child's hips.
Images may be taken of your child's hip. This can be done with:
The goal of treatment is for the hip to be in the correct position. How it is done depends on the child's age. Options are:
- Watchful waiting of newborns to see if the problem gets better
- A harness to keep a newborn or baby's hip in place
- Adjusting the hip bones and applying a lower body cast
- Hip surgery and a lower body cast
Avoiding tight swaddling positions may lower the risk in some children.
Bittersohl B, Hosalkar HS, et al. Surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in children and adolescents. Orthop Clin North Am. 2012 Jul;43(3):301-315.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/developmental-dysplasia-of-the-hip. Updated February 22, 2017. Accessed July 30, 2020.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00347. Updated January 2018. Accessed July 30, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 3/10/2021