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Hip Dysplasia (DDH)

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a common condition that occurs when the ball at the top of a child’s thigh bone is not stable within the hip socket (acetabulum).

It is most frequently discovered during newborn examinations but can appear after this time, so hips should be checked regularly until the child is preschool age (assess at every well-baby check). Early diagnosis results in improved outcomes

Signs of hip dysplasia can include:

  • Clunk or click in the hip
  • Stiff hip joint (reduced abduction)
  • Different length legs
  • Uneven skin folds in the top buttock creases
  •  Hip joint being dislocatable on examination (especially neonates)

High dysplasia is more common in females, babies born weighing over 4kg, first born children, those with a family history of hip dysplasia and those born in the breech position. Incorrect swaddling techniques can contribute.

Early diagnosis results in more favourable outcomes. A child’s hips should be checked regularly from birth to 3.5 years, as DDH is not always present at birth. Your child’s Doctor will perform a physical examination. They may request an ultrasound or x-ray of the hip joint, and you may be referred to a specialist.

Treatment usually means a harness or splint. Sometimes reduction of the hip joint under general anaesthetic (closed reduction) or surgery (open reduction) can be needed, with application of a hip spica cast.

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