Birth defects, also called congenital anomalies, are physical abnormalities that occur before a baby is born. "Congenital" means "present at birth." (See also Introduction to Birth Defects of the Face, Bones, Joints, and Muscles Introduction to Birth Defects of the Face, Bones, Joints, and Muscles Birth defects, also called congenital anomalies, are physical abnormalities that occur before a baby is born. "Congenital" means "present at birth." Birth defects of the face and limbs are fairly... read more .)
In developmental dysplasia of the hip, formerly called congenital dislocation of the hip, the newborn's hip socket and the head of the thighbone (femoral head), which form the hip joint, become separated, often because the hip socket is not deep enough to hold the head of the femur. Dysplasia can affect one or both hips.
Risk factors for dysplasia of the hip include the following:
Newborns who have other deformities (such as birth defects of the feet Clubfoot and Other Foot Defects Clubfoot (talipes equinovarus) is a birth defect in which the foot and ankle are twisted out of shape or position. Birth defects, also called congenital anomalies, are physical abnormalities... read more or problems with the neck Congenital Torticollis Congenital torticollis is a birth defect in which the head becomes tilted at or soon after birth. Birth defects, also called congenital anomalies, are physical abnormalities that occur before... read more )
Newborns who have close relatives with the defect (particularly for girls)
Diagnosis of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
All newborns are screened for developmental dysplasia of the hip. The doctor may be able to detect the defect by moving the newborn's hips through a series of specific movements. The right and left legs or hips often look different from each other in affected newborns.
An imaging test is needed if the doctor finds any abnormality when examining the infant. In infants younger than 4 months, ultrasonography of the hips is usually done. In infants older than 4 months, x-rays Plain X-Rays X-rays are high-energy radiation waves that can penetrate most substances (to varying degrees). In very low doses, x-rays are used to produce images that help doctors diagnose disease. In high... read more can be used.
Even if the doctor is not able to detect the defect, newborns who have risk factors should have ultrasonography Ultrasonography Ultrasonography uses high-frequency sound (ultrasound) waves to produce images of internal organs and other tissues. A device called a transducer converts electrical current into sound waves... read more of their hips at age 6 weeks.
Treatment of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
Early treatment of developmental dysplasia of the hip is important to avoid the need for surgery later. The best treatment is early use of the Pavlik harness. The Pavlik harness is a soft brace that holds the infant's knees spread outward and up toward the chest.
If the defect persists past the age of 6 months, surgery to fix the hip in the normal position is usually needed.
The use of triple diapers (an older treatment) or padded diapers is no longer recommended.