Hip Dysplasia Overview


The Basics


What is hip dysplasia?

The hip joint is made up of a ball and socket; the femoral head of the thigh bone (femur) is the ball and the acetabulum of the pelvis is the socket. Loose ligaments around the joint can allow for misalignment of varying degrees to occur. The hip joint is classified as displaced when the ball and socket do not fit together in their 'normal' position. Sometimes this is due to abnormal development and/or lack of growth.

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Other names for hip dysplasia - 

  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)
  • Infant hip dysplasia
  • Clicky hips
  • Hip dislocation
  • Developmental hip dislocation
  • Acetabular dysplasia
  • Congenital hip dysplasia

Further Information

Hip Dysplasia in Teenagers & Adults

Signs & Symptoms




Who It Affects



What are the statistics?

As many as 1 in 50 infants are being treated for DDH in Australia currently, however the reported incidence of developmental dysplasia of the hip varies widely. This is due to the difference in average rate of diagnosis using clinical examination (manual checks) alone or using ultrasonography as well. One in 20 babies born full-term have some hip instability at birth. This increases to one in 10 when a family history of the condition is present.

Per 1000 births, the incidence of treatment required for DDH using the Barlow clinical test is 1.5. Using ultrasonography, the overall incidence increases to three to four per 1000 births.

Depending on the skill level of the assessor, clinical examination alone can lead to under diagnosis of  DDH. However, for the same reason, ultrasonography can lead to over diagnosis of DDH due to subjectivity in the classification system.


'Having no risk factors is the biggest risk for late diagnosed hip dysplasia. DDH is everybody's business.'



Preventative Strategies


For newborns and babies;


  • Natural leg position. Legs bent at knee and turned out at hip (froggie position).


  • Tight swaddling. Legs should be free to move.
  • Baby seats, car seats, carriers, and slings that bring legs together at the knees. Allow the legs to hang, or position them stretched out straight and together.
Source: International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Source: International Hip Dysplasia Institute

For adults:

Hip dysplasia can cause osteoarthritis. Hip-preservation surgery [pelvic osteotomy] can be considered for candidates with hip dysplasia from their early teens to help potentially delay, reduce or prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.

Safe Swaddling


Page Reviewed:  24 April 2017. Information sources available here.


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Every effort is made to ensure this information is up to date, accurate and easy to understand. Healthy Hips Australia accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading. This can be reproduce with acknowledgement to Healthy Hips Australia. Handouts are available to download free of charge at www.healthyhipsaustralia.org.au