What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) or click hips, is the most common musculoskeletal birth anomaly in the world.
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.
Left undiagnosed it’s one of the leading causes of early-onset arthritis of the hip; it is a significant public health issue. Treatment is optimised when diagnosis occurs within the first 3 months of life. All parents, and parents- to-be, are urged to ensure their children’s hips are routinely checked from birth right through until 3.5 years of age.
What are the statistics?
8 infants a day are diagnosed with hip dysplasia in Australia. In the last decade the number of those diagnosed late with this potentially life changing condition has increased.
The reported incidence of hip dysplasia 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 6 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.
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.’
Page Reviewed: 22 January 2024. 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