What Is DDH in Children and How is it Treated?

Development Dysplasia of the hip refers to a wide range of issues in the formation of children’s hips. A combination of factors leads to this, such as a baby’s response to maternal hormones during pregnancy, a breech delivery where the baby is delivered bottom-first instead of being head-first, development in a tight uterus, which makes movement difficult for the fetus or presence of low levels of amniotic fluid. Family history of such a disorder and various environmental risk factors also play a role. The condition is sometimes also called Congenital Dislocation of the hip (CDH). 

It is mostly observed in girl babies, compared to boys. Over 8 in 10 cases are observed in female babies and 6 in 10 cases occur in firstborns, according to stats provided by International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Symptoms of DDH in Children 

Hip dysplasia develops around birth, after the time of birth and even during the growing up years. This is why disorder is termed as developmental. The ‘ball and socket’ joint of the hip, which is responsible for a range of motions doesn’t develop properly in kids. In DDH, the hip socket is too shallow and the top of the femur (thigh bone) is not held tightly in place. In extreme cases, this can lead to dislocation of the thigh bone.

Each baby shows different symptoms and these can develop throughout the childhood. Newborns typically show symptoms like:

  • Reduced movement at one side of the body, with the dislocation problem
  • Shorter leg on the side of hip dislocation
  • Leg may appear to turn out more, on the side where dislocation exists
  • Uneven skin folds seen in buttocks or thighs

It is possible that a baby shows no symptoms during crawling years, but after they start walking, symptoms can surface like:

  • Limping while walking
  • Shorter leg on one side makes the child walk on toes on one side, but not other
  • Lower back of the child rounded inward
  • Hip pain in teenage years
  • Painful and stiff joints 

Although doctors screen children for DDH when they are born, it might not be discovered until later checkups. If you feel your child is showing such symptoms, consider taking them to the best children hospital in Hyderabad, for timely testing and diagnosis.

Diagnosis of DDH in Children 

In addition to physical examinations, doctors will resort to visual imaging to detect hip instability. X-rays and ultrasounds help them to get a picture of the internal structure of bones, organs and tissues, to aid them in confirming their diagnosis.

In some cases, if the condition or symptoms appear mild, the doctor may prescribe routine multiple exams in future to keep an eye on the joint stability.

Treatment for DDH in Children

Options for treatment depend on the child’s age, severity of symptoms and general health condition. In most cases, when the disorder is detected early, the condition can be corrected to great degree. 

Fabric splints called Pavlik harness are commonly used to treat the condition in babies up to 6 months of age. The harness is fitted to keep the legs apart in a frog-like position. This maintains the stability of the hip joint, while the child grows. The doctor periodically checks the fit of the harness. Alternatively, spica casts also help to address this condition. Another option is fixed-abduction braces, which also holds the legs apart while flexing the hips upwards. Here too, the hips are held in properly aligned positions to aid normal joint development.

In some cases, if these options don’t work or the child is diagnosed with symptoms after the age of 2 years, surgery might be suggested. 

Success rates for DDH treatments are high, with timely diagnosis, treatment and follow-up procedures. Consult the best children hospital in Hyderabad to know of your options.