Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
What is developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)?
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is the name for a range of conditions of a child's hip. It can affect one or both hip joints.
With subluxation or dislocation, the hip socket is often too shallow, more like a saucer than the deep cup that it should be.
What causes DDH?
The exact cause of DDH is not known. A number of risk factors can raise your child's chances of having DDH, including a family history of DDH and your baby's position in the womb and at birth.
What are the symptoms?
Having DDH does not cause pain. A baby with DDH may have:
A child who is walking may:
How is DDH diagnosed?
Usually, DDH is diagnosed during your newborn's physical exam. If your baby is older, DDH may be diagnosed during a well-baby checkup. But it may be harder to diagnose the condition in a baby older than 1 to 3 months, because the only outward sign may be less mobility or flexibility in the movement of the affected hip joint(s).
How is it treated?
Doctors treat DDH by moving your baby's upper thighbone into the hip socket and keeping it in place while the hip joint grows. A splint, called a Pavlik harness, is most often used to keep the joint in place in babies younger than 6 months. A hard cast, known as a spica cast, is used for older babies. Other forms of treatment, such as surgery or a brace, also may be needed.
It's important to treat DDH early. Most children born with looseness (laxity) of the hips will not have problems. But children with untreated DDH may develop lasting hip problems. Don't try to treat DDH on your own, such as by diapering a baby with 3 or 4 diapers at a time or by trying to put your baby's legs in certain positions. These methods don't work well and may cause the joint to develop abnormally.
Frequently Asked Questions
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