Need to Know: What is Hip Dysplasia?

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a problem that sometimes happens with babies or young children’s hips. When a child has hip dysplasia the top of the femoral bone (the big bone in the leg) does not stay in place in the baby’s hip socket. This is a problem because it can cause the hips to develop abnormally.

What are the symptoms?

Parents might notice a few things that lead them to take their baby to be evaluated for hip dysplasia. Often, parents will notice that their baby’s hips “click” when they move them. This clicking sound is the sound of the femoral bone moving in and out of place in the hip socket. It is often diagnosed when a child is learning to walk because parents notice them walking with a waddle or learning on one side when they stand or walk.

Parents might also notice that one of their child’s legs appears longer than the other, has a foot that turns outward, or that their little one is learning to walk later than other babies. Hip dysplasia can be easy to miss unless you know what to look for though, so doctors check babies' hips at most of their routine well checks to make sure they are developing properly.

hip dysplasia
Image via Unsplash/ Sean Roy

What causes hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia can be caused by wrapping or swaddling a baby too tightly so that their legs cannot bend but, most often its causes are unknown. It can run in families and is more common in babies who were in the breech position prior to birth. It is also more common in baby girls than baby boys, though the reason for this is unknown.

How do you treat it?

If hip dysplasia is diagnosed soon after birth, babies might wear a soft brace that will ensure their hips develop normally. Often babies wear this soft brace for 6-10 weeks. If this is diagnosed later on, then a baby might have to have an operation to put their femoral bone back in its proper place. After treatment, most babies' hips go on to develop normally without any further issues!

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Need to Know: What is Hip Dysplasia?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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