Developmental Dysphasia of the Hip

For parents who have a baby born with a loose hip, daily life can be a challenge for the baby and the parents. Infant Hip Dysplasis, also known as infant loose hip, is when a baby is born with a malformed femur or leg bone the fails to properly connect with the hip socket or when the hip socket itself is malformed. Two other commonly used terms for the condition are Developmental Dysphasia of the Hip (DDH) or congenital hip dislocation (CHD). An important part of monitoring for newborn baby health care is checking for DDH. If a baby is born with DDH and it goes untreated can cause mobility difficulties throughout the child’s lifetime.

The causes of DDH include:

Improper positioning in utero

Physiological imbalances in a child’s genetic composition

Abnormal responses to hormones from the mother

It is important to recognize that DDH is a condition that can easily go undetected at birth. The complications can include bone twisting, hip socket abnormalities and muscle contractures. That is why it is so important for parents to be aware of their child’s growth and development. Even if things seem perfectly fine at birth, problems can arise in the future so it is important to keep up with regular examinations to make sure the baby is progressing properly through the normal stages of development.

Diagnosing DDH or Loose Hip is a process of several steps. A doctor will perform the Barlow test, which is where they will gently try to push the hip bone out of the socket. Some doctors will perform the Ortolani test that is performed on infants 1 to 2 months of age. During this time, the tissue is still pliable and the doctor will be able to feel a loose hip pop back into place. Doctors will compare the creases on the infants thighs, which will be symmetrical if the hips are normal. Unequal leg length and knee positions when placed side by side is another sign of dysphasia. Doctors may even choose to use an X-ray or ultrasound to confirm the DDH diagnosis.

Treatment for DDH will vary according to the infant’s age in early infancy early detection is the key. Special equipment can be used to help hold the leg, knee or hip in a specific position. The pediatrician may choose to use a Pavlik harness or Frejka splint. They help to tighten ligaments and speed normal hip socket formation.

For a child who is age 1 to 6 months, equipment applications are used to correct the condition, and in some extreme cases, surgery may be needed under general anesthetic. Children 18 months and older with progressive deformities in the hip will more than likely require open surgery to realign the hip socket.

If you have any concerns about your child’s hip growth or function, contact your doctor immediately.

Sources: medicine: DDH

Orthoseek: Hip Dysplasia