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Hip Dysplasia in Infants


Hip dysplasia refers to a medical condition with remarkable deformities in the hip region. It is also termed as developmental dysplasia of the hip as it mainly starts in the developmental stage of the infant i.e. just after the birth or in the childhood. Due to unusual development of the hip joint, the thighbone does not remain appropriately in the socket and the ligaments that tightly hold it together become loose due to over stretching.

Hip Dysplasia In Infants

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

Female infants are at increased of the disease compared to the male infants.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia Include

  • Unusual movement of growing hip during the first trimester.
  • Neuromuscular diseases occurring in second trimester.
  • Postnatal forces such as those observed during swaddling.
  • Can be inherited from parents or a distant blood relative.
  • Birth of multiple babies.
  • Congenital disorders such as cerebral palsy increase the risk of disease.
  • Influence of maternal hormones that cause loosening of ligaments in the mother can also result in loosening of ligaments in the baby.
  • Babies positioned in breech position in the womb of mother are at high risk of hip dysplasia than those placed in normal position. Even in those infants who are positioned in normal position, the left hip is at high risk of being affected.
  • Improper holding of infants with their hips separated far apart are at high risk of the disease. Babies should be handled carefully in the initial months of birth as the bones are very soft.

Symptoms Hip Dysplasia

  • Infants find it hard to move the affected hip joint. They cannot totally spread the hips which can be observed by the mother at the time wearing the nappy.
  • Affected infants do not show signs of pain in abnormal hip joint. But, the pain starts in the adolescence.
  • Leg on the side of affected hip joint appears to be short.
  • Click sound is observed in the affected hip due to femur moving in and out of the socket.
  • Limping or walking on tip toes can be observed.
  • Gap between the legs will be more.

Diagnosis Hip Dysplasia

  • Physical examination: An experienced pediatrician will be able to identify the disease in new born infants with thorough examination and basing on the condition of the baby before and after birth.
  • X-ray of the suspected hip region.
  • CT scan and MRI scan.
  • Ultrasound Sonography to know the exact location of the ball within the socket.

In rare cases, the disease remains undiagnosed until the child reaches two years of age.

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia

An ultrasound is generally performed after six weeks of birth in high risk infants. Infants who are diagnosed with the disease are given the treatment depending of the age, severity of the disease and also on the condition of the infant.

Some of the treatment options include

  1. Casting

    This involves placing of the affected hip in a cast so as to keep the ligaments intact without any stress. This is the preferred treatment option for those infants with totally deformed hip joint.

  2. Pavlik Harness Placement

    Pavlik harness is a device used to hold the hips in place. It offers very less space for movement of legs. This is generally used for infants of up to 6 months.

  3. Surgery

    This is final option used in infants who fail to respond to other methods. It is also used in infants in whom the disease is diagnosed late i.e. after six months of age. After the surgery, the hip is placed in a cast for about 3-6 months for proper positioning of the hip.

Majority of the kids in whom the condition is treated successfully grow normally. However, few of them develop arthritis in the affected side in adult stage.

Lastly, to prevent complications it is essential to diagnose the disease at an early stage. Special care should be taken by mothers in whom the baby is positioned in breech position.


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