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Developmental Hip Dysplasia in Children

What is it?

  • Developmental dysplasia (dihs-play-zhe-uh) of the hip or "DDH" is also known as congenital (kun-jen-ih-tahl) dislocation (dih-slo-k-shun) of the hip "CDH". The pelvis is the large flat bone that makes up the buttock. The femur (long thighbone) fits together in the pelvis to make the hip joint. DDH is when the head (tip) of your child's femur does not fit correctly into hip sockets.
  • DDH in your child can be very mild to very severe. Mild DDH is when the head of the femur is just slightly out of place. Very bad DDH is when the femur head is not in the hip socket at all. DDH can happen in one or both of your baby's hips. It can be present at birth or it can occur after birth as your baby starts to grow. It seems to be more common in girls than boys.


The exact cause of DDH is not known. Caregivers think it may be linked to several of the following.

  • Certain hormones (body chemicals) that your body makes causing your baby or child's hip joint to be very loose.
  • Genetic links which mean that DDH is passed down from your family.
  • Position of your baby (breech) in the uterus (womb) before he is born.
  • Swaddling clothes that keep a baby's hips straight all the time.

Signs and Symptoms:

Unless your baby is walking it may be very difficult for you to know that he has DDH. It is very important for you to take your baby to "well-baby" check ups after he is born. This is often where caregivers find out your baby has DDH. Caregivers look for the following signs of DDH in your child.

  • Extra folds or wrinkles on the thigh under your child's buttock (rear).
  • Your child may not be able to move the effected hip as well as the other one.
  • Caregivers will lay your child flat on his back with bent hips and knees. In this position they may find one of your child's legs may look shorter than the other one.
  • If your child can walk, he may seem to have a funny "waddling" walk. Or, he may sway towards the effected side.
  • Caregivers may hear or feel "pops" and "clicks" in your baby's hip with special movement tests.


Your child may need an x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI. Caregivers will also do special kind of physical tests on your child's hip. Early discovery and treatment of DDH are important to get the best results. Treatment is also based on how bad DDH is in your child. Your baby may need a special splint called a Pavlik (pahv-lick) harness to hold his hips in the correct position. Older children are often put in a spica (special lower-body) cast. Your child may also need traction (trak-shun) and surgery.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat your child.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.