Developmental Hip Dysplasia, Information for Parents

The information in the following post is based on my own research and experiences as a Mumma.  If you have any concerns about your child I urge you to get it checked out.        Diagnosis the younger the better!  🙂

2 of our 3 daughters have Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips, DDH.  I had it too, so luckily we were on the look out and in both cases caught it early when it is easy to treat.  Read more about our youngest daughters Hip Journey here.

The more research I do however, it seams that far too many cases are missed and not diagnosed until the child is a few years old.  Treatment of DDH can be relaitively straight forward and the younger the baby the more effective, fast working and non-invasive the treatment is.  When left undiagnosed though this is unfortunately not the case.  Late diagnoses can mean longer treatment times, surgery and a large plaster cast.  it also means restricting a child who is used to being on the move as apposed to a small baby who does not know any different.

DDH basically means that the hip socket has not developed as it should have, sometimes causing the Femoral Head to sit in the wrong position in the socket, be dislocated or ‘click’ when moved.  There are varrying degrees and it is called Developmetal Dysplasia of the Hips because cases can get better or worsen with age.

These images from the International Hip Institute show the range of severity that can occur.

human hip joint as it should appear

Subluxation when the ball is not aligned properly with the socket. A mild form of hip dysplasia    Low Dislocation when the ball is just outside of the socket. A more serious form of hip dysplasia.    High dislocation - the ball is completely removed from the hip socket. A severe form of hip dysplasia.

Here are the main risk factors for DDH.

  • family history
  • female
  • first born
  • breach position
  • 4kg + birth weight

It seams crazy to me that parents are not made more aware of DDH.  Many of the warning signs are easy to pick up on if you know what you are looking for and early detection and treatment is always best.

Here are some of the main signs of DDH

  • uneven creases in the thighs or buttock (suggesting that the Femoral Head is sitting in the wrong position)
  • a stiffness in one or both legs as you rotate the legs outwards (as when nappy changing)
  • one leg appears shorter than the other  (suggesting that the Femoral Head is sitting in the wrong position)
  • crawling with one leg dragging
  • walking with a limp (if one hip affected) or waddling type movement (if both hips are affected)

The signs above are more noticeable if one hip is affected more than the other causing asymmetry.  Bi-Lateral (on both sides) Hip Dysplasia can be more difficult to detect.

While there is nothing that a parent can do that will cause DDH there are some things that can be done to reduce the risk/severity if a child has a predisposition or mild DDH.  Basically a safe position for the hips is in abduction, that is, the knees are spread apart rather than being held together.

“The bones of an infants hip joint are much softer than an adult hip joint It is easier for an infant’s hip to become misaligned (subluxate) or dislocate than an adult hip. This is because an infant hip socket is mostly soft, pliable, cartilage. Whereas an adult’s hip socket is hard bone.”

Source – The International Hip Dysplasia Institute

I hope you have found this post informative and that you can help me spread awareness of DDH.

The following websites have useful information.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Better Health Channel

Kids Health, The Childrens Hosptial at Westmead