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What you Need to Know About Hip Dysplasia in Babies

Here’s everything you need to know about hip dysplasia in babies from a mom who has been there, done that. Hip dysplasia risk factors, hip dysplasia warning signs, hip dysplasia prevention tips. If you are a parent, you need to know this important information.

what you need to know about hip dysplasia

My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a dislocated left hip on August 31, 2011 when she was 15 months old and had open reduction surgery on November 1, 2011 at the University of Iowa.

What you Need to Know About Hip Dysplasia in Babies

My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a dislocated left hip on August 31, 2011 when she was 15 months old and had open reduction surgery hip surgery on November 1, 2011 at the University of Iowa. While the surgery successfully put her hip back in the socket, it did not fix her problems. She had another surgery two years that was much more involved and horrible. If you’re a parent, you need to know about hip dysplasia so you can advocate for your kiddos. The early it’s detected, the easier it is to correct.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia, DDH, developmental dysplasia of the hip is not as uncommon as you might thing. At the very basic level hip dysplasia is a medical term for general instabilityof the hip joint. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, one in ten babies is born with a hip instability. That instability often corrects itself as the baby grows, but sometimes it does not. Some babies are born with completely dislocated hips, and some children who have normal hips at birth develop hip dysplasia as they grow.]

In our case, we don’t know if Sara was born with hip dysplasia or not. She passed the newborn exams and  we didn’t really suspect anything until she started walking. It was obvious when she started walking, though, that something was wrong.

Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

There are several risk factors of hip dysplasia. While not every child who is diagnosed with DDH has any risk factors, your baby is more at risk of hip dysplasia in these cases:

  • First born babies are more likely to have hip dysplasia
  • Female babies are more likely to have hip dysplasia – about 75% of DDH cases present in baby girls.
  • Breech pregnancy and/or c-section delivery
  • Family history of hip dsyplaisa – particularly if mom had DDH

Sara’s case is pretty interesting. She was my fourth baby, so not at risk as a first born child. She’s obviously a girl, and we do have a family history of DDH – but it our case, her cousin has DDH, not me. Sara was also breech for a time, but she turned and we had an uneventful vaginal birth at home.

Warning Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Babies

Have you ever wondered why the pediatrician plays with your baby’s legs during examinations? That push up, push out thing they do? When they do that, they’re actually checking for hip dysplasia, specifically clicking hips or limited range of motion. Clicky hips and limited range of motion can by warning signs of hip dysplasia. But there are more signs to be aware of:

  • Clicky hips
  • Limited range of hip motion
  • Uneven butt cheek folds
  • Uneven leg lengths
  • Waddling walk – see the video below of the walk that first made us aware that Sara had a problem.

Want to read more? Here’s information from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute on signs and symptoms of pediatric hip dysplasia.

Here’s a video of Sara walking with hip dysplasia prior to surgery. We found the hip problem because she limped with she first started walking.

 Hip Dysplasia Prevention Tips

While Hip Dyslplasia is not preventable in all cases, there are things you can do to minimize your child’s risk of DDH. Primarily, you can support your baby’s hips property by using hip friendly carriers and seats.

How to Prepare for your Baby’s Hip Surgery

How to Entertain a Toddler in a Spica Cast

Helpful Supplies for Hip Surgery

What to Expect on Hip Surgery Day.

Tips for surviving the first week in the spica cast.

Here’s how we’re diapering in the spica.

Spica Cast Cut OFF Day – Tips & Tricks

Here is information on traction, if that’s an option for you.

Helpful resources if you’re going through Hip Dysplasia or know someone who is:

International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Hip Healthy Swaddling

Hip Toddlers Facebook Group

Hip Dysplasia in Babies Facebook Group

Shriners Hospitals for Children

Ronald McDonald House

Larry the Cable Guy’s Git-R-Done Foundation

Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia by Betsy Miller

If you’re facing DDH and have a particular question or concern you would like me to blog about, please send me an email at [email protected]! I’d love to hear how I can help you.


Monday 21st of May 2012

Hi Michelle:

My name is Laura, I am 30 years old, and I was born with hip dysplasia in the right side that, wasn't discovered until I was 13 months old, so by the time it happened the only one solution was surgery, I had a total of 5 surgeries in my first 10 years of life, it is not fun, but I have always thank my mother because she always tried to make my life as normal as possible, and she never treated me like a disable child, I had a limitation, that was true, but she teach me to live with it, after my last surgery at 9 years old, my life became mostly normal, I was able to do everything, I even became a very good athlete in swimming, I almost made it to Olympic games in Sydney in the year 2000, now I have a normal life I take dance classes, go to the gym, everything is normal for me, if you see me in the street you wouldn't think I had that many surgeries, the key is to never feel sorry for yourself.


Thursday 17th of May 2012

Hello Michelle,

Thank you for sharing all these resources and your story! You're so right - HP isn't all that common and can be difficult later in life if not diagnosed. We were lucky. My son was born with HP. So, as 2 days old he started wearing his hip harness. We kept it on him for 3 months, and it fixed the problem. We are so glad his ped. caught it right away. Again, thank you for sharing your story.

Be Well, --Amber


Thursday 17th of May 2012

I'm glad to hear your son's HD was fixed with 3 months harness!! That's fantastic. We have a check up next Wednesday and I'm already stressing...


Wednesday 11th of April 2012

I was born with no hip sockets, and was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. They discovered it when I was less than 24 hours old! I was lucky enough to only have to wear a brace for 3 months. Shriner s paid for everything. My folks were very young and very poor. I have since gone on to walk normally, and have two beautiful babies. I do have scoliosis. And I did have herrington rod surgery to correct the curves after my first baby was born. But it hasn't stopped me in this world. God has healed me twice now. And I'm very thankful for it. I've never met someone with the same diagnosis. And until now, I hadn't considered how my mother felt. I've often thought of myself as the girl who was never supposed to walk, poor pitiful me. Never once how my parents felt with the thought of providing for a disabled child. Thanks for sharing this piece of your life. It gave me new perspective. ~Amber


Wednesday 11th of April 2012

Hi Amber, thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear you are walking normally and have two healthy babies!! Our surgeon is also a spine specialist. I can't imagine going through that. I hope you are all better now!!

Michelle Anderson

Sunday 1st of April 2012

I found you via a search for freezer friendly meals and couldn't help but notice your hip dysplasia link.

I'm prepping our household for my upcoming total hip replacement. You see, I have a case of undiagnosed hip dysplasia that was finally diagnosed last summer...I'm now 43.

Hang in there with your little one. Believe me, it's much better to deal with it while young than to have to have a THR as an adult. :o)

I'll be adding a batch of your Eggy Muffins into our freezer for quick meals for the family while I'm recovering. They sounds delicious!


Sunday 1st of April 2012

Good luck to you with your hip replacement! I'm not sure that she will completely avoid that as an adult, but I sure as heck hope we put it off by a couple of decades because we're trying to fix it now. Did you have any symptoms as a child? I hope the muffins help during your recovery!!! I'd bring you a fresh batch if you live anywhere in Eastern Iowa! :-)


Monday 5th of March 2012

My daughter had HD when she was born and I am so, so grateful to our brand-new to us pediatrician who caught it on his first examination of her after she was born. She was in a brace within days of being born. I was so sad as a first time mother to my newborn in this ugly contraption, unable to really hold her and bathe her... but almost 6 years later -- her hips and legs are perfect. Hang in there!