First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a problem in a baby's hip joint. It may also be called developmental hip dysplasia. In DDH, the top of the thighbone doesn't fit tightly into the hip socket. This problem may affect one or both hip joints. A baby may be born with it, or it may happen in the first year of life.
In a normal hip, the thighbone (femur) fits snugly into a cup-shaped socket in the pelvis. It is held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. But in DDH, the hip socket may be too shallow or the tissues around the joint may be too loose.
In mild cases, the ligaments and other soft tissues aren't tight. This lets the thighbone move around more than normal in the hip socket. In more severe cases, the hip socket is more like a saucer than a deep cup. As a result, the ball at the top of the thighbone may slide out of the hip socket.
It's important to get DDH treated early. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to cause long-term hip problems.
The exact cause of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is not known. But some things can raise your child's chances of having it, including:
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) isn't painful, and your baby may not have any obvious signs of a hip defect. But some babies with this problem may have:
A child who is walking may:
It is usually diagnosed during a newborn's physical exam. A doctor will move the baby's legs and look and listen for signs of a problem.
If your baby is older, your doctor may diagnose developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) during the physical exam at a well-baby checkup. But it may be hard to diagnose in a baby more than 1 to 3 months old. That's because the only outward sign may be a hip joint that is less mobile or flexible than normal.
If the doctor suspects DDH but the results of a physical exam aren't clear, your child might need to have an imaging test of the hip joint, such as an ultrasound or X-ray.
Your child's hip socket won't form and grow properly if the ball at the top of the thighbone doesn't fit snugly in the joint. So treatment focuses on moving the thighbone into its normal position and keeping it in place while the joint grows.
Your child may need:
Other forms of treatment that may be needed include:
If treatment works well, your child probably won't have any further hip problems. But you will need to get your child's hips checked regularly to make sure that they grow and develop normally.
Current as of:
March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.