Hip Dysplasia In Infants: Causes, Treatments, And Lasting Effects

Hip dysplasia is a disorder that effects the development of your child's hip joint. Infants are most commonly affected, though toddlers and children can begin to display symptoms of this condition as well. If you've noticed common symptoms of hip dysplasia, such as a limited range of motion, excessive clicking sounds in the hips, and asymmetry of your child's legs, read on to learn more about what causes the condition, how it's treated, and whether there are any lasting effects.  

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Infants?

Hip dysplasia is a common condition in infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children. While the exact causes of hip dysplasia aren't known, there are a few well-known factors that point to an increased likelihood of your child developing it.  

Genetics play a large role in the development of hip dysplasia, though there are usually other factors in play that will contribute to its development. Other factors include hip instability within the womb (more pronounced if the child is in the breech position) and the positioning of your infant's hips during their first year of life. Prior to birth, there is nothing that can be done to prevent your infant from developing dysplasia, and there's no way of diagnosing your child while they're still in the womb.

How is Hip Dysplasia Treated?

The age at which your child is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, as well as how severe the dysplasia is, will determine the treatment methods used on your child.

For infants 6 months of age and younger, braces and harnesses are common treatment options. Both options will keep your child's hips in a fixed position that allows for proper hip development. These treatments will usually last a few months or until your child's orthopedist feels the hips have become stable enough.

In severe cases of dysplasia, or for children over the age of 6 months, surgery may be the only way to guarantee proper hip development. If your child's hip is simply out of place, the orthopaedic surgeon will manipulate the hip until it's back in the socket. If something is wrong with the joint, however, or there is tissue in the way, a more extensive surgery may be required.

Will My Child Suffer Any Lasting Effects?

If your child's dysplasia is treated soon after diagnosis, the likelihood of lasting effects is low. For children who aren't diagnosed until a later age, or for those with more severe forms of dysplasia, however, there may be some difficulties down the road.

If dysplasia isn't treated when the child is still young and developing, this can cause problems with the affected hip joint. Untreated dysplasia can result in an unsteady gait, one leg that is longer in length than the other, and can even lead to osteoarthritis in young adults.

If you suspect that your child has hip dysplasia, talk with your child's pediatrician and request a referral to a pediatric orthopedist.