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What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia Baby

Hip dysplasia is the medical term for instability, or looseness, of the hip joint that affects thousands of children each year. This ranges from mild instability to complete dislocation. Approximately one out of every 20 full-term babies has some hip instability and two to three per 1000 will require treatment.

Persistent hip instability is a silent childhood condition that frequently causes disability and arthritis in adults. In spite of the frequency and the potential for lifelong disability, there is poor awareness of this condition outside the medical profession. Early diagnosis and simple treatment is the best solution, but some cases are undetected or difficult to treat with current methods of care. Also, many children around the world do not have access to early diagnosis and treatment.

Please visit hipdysplasia.org for more information.

Doctors use a number of different terms for hip dysplasia depending on severity and time of occurrence. These names include:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Acetabular Dysplasia
  • Hip Dislocation
  • Congenital Dislocation of the Hip (CDH)
  • Developmental Dislocation of the Hip (DDH)
  • Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)
Hip Dysplasia 1

The term Developmental Dysplasia, or DDH, is generally preferred for infants because this condition can develop after birth. Also, the term congenital tends to refer to a defect where something is missing or added to normal tissues. In the case of DDH, the infant’s joint is otherwise normal except for the instability.

When the hip is completely out of the joint, it is called a dislocation. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that is held together by ligaments. The ball is called the head of the femur (femoral head) and the socket is called the acetabulum.

In some infants the ligaments around the hip joint are loose and the ball does not stay in the socket. Sometimes the condition is mild and resolves spontaneously. Other times the ball is slightly or completely dislocated from the socket.

How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?

Hip dysplasia and dislocation are usually diagnosed by routine examination of the infant.

A “hip click” can be a sign of hip dislocation, but this can also be a normal finding in some infants because there are inside the hip joint that can make a snapping noise positions. But even with careful examination, complete hip dislocation can be difficult to detect in newborn infants. Also, there are documented cases where the hips were normal at birth, but became dislocated in the first few months of life. This is why it is important for babies to have regular examinations of the hips during the first year of life. An ultrasound study in young infants or X-ray study in older infants and children is performed when hip dysplasia is suspected. This is necessary to make the diagnosis or to be sure the hip is normal.

Hip Dysplasia 2
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) is a collaborative, international, not-for-profit effort to improve the health and quality of life of those affected by hip dysplasia. Their goal is to provide education to patients, families, and physicians as the most comprehensive and reliable resource for knowledge about hip dysplasia in its various forms.


2 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Zirah Hani
Jun 29, 2014 1:25pm [ 1 ]

Hello, I'm a single 30yrs old asian women. i had DDH when i was born and i had my hip surgery when i was 10 yrs old. It wasn't a success surgery as i still limping when i walk. i have a shortening of about 3-4 inch on my left leg and my muscles on my left leg still weak from the previous surgery due to lack of physiotherapy. From my latest x-ray i can see that im having high dislocation and that my femoral head is only supported by muscles. Sometimes im having bad back ache due to the shortening. My question is, how will my sex life affect me? Is it possible for me to have babies and will i have complication or difficulty during and after pregnancy?

Apr 14, 2016 8:01am [ 2 ]

I was born with Hip Dysplasia, but it went undetected until I was in my 50's and I developed Arthritis in the left hip and required replacement. My Dysplasia is congenital vs acquired after birth. This can easily be determined by xray of the fmur bones, as they will not be of a uniform diameter from the knee to the hip, but will flair near the hip joint. Also, because of the hip malformation the pelvis is usually malformed, most often shaping to an Android (male) shaped pelvis vs. Gynecoid (female) shaped pelvis. These are compensations for the shallow hip socket. More often than not a woman with a Congenital Hip Dysplaysia requires C-section because of her mal-formed pelvis structure unlike Hip Dysplasia that develops after birth. The doctor who performed my hip replacement was thoroughly shocked to discover that I had given birth to all 4 of my children vaginally. And, two of them were 9 lbs plus. He had two partners who also were shocked because of never having heard of this happening. My midwife told me that for all intents and purposes I performed the impossible. So.....it is possible, no matter what anyone else thinks.

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