Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
It is the earnest prayer of every mother to give birth to a healthy bouncing baby. But, sometimes, the unexpected happens. After birth, some mothers discover certain issues with their newborn babies. These issues range from clubfoot, birth injuries, colic, and developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).
DDH is a health problem that affects babies and young children. That said, if your child is diagnosed with this health condition, what do you do? First off, you may want to understand the condition and what the future holds for your child.
Lucky for you, we have highlighted a few important things you should know about DDH, including its symptoms, causes, how it is diagnosed, and treatments.
Let’s begin with what DDH is.
What is DDH?
DDH, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip, occurs when a child’s hip joint doesn’t form as it ought to. Just like a car’s tires wear out faster when they are misaligned, DDH stops the hip joint from functioning optimally, making the joint wear out faster than usual.
In the hip joint of a healthy baby, the head of the femur fits well into the hip socket. For a child suffering from DDH, the hip socket is shallow, allowing the head to slip in and out, moving slightly or totally out of the socket.
Causes of DDH
DDH is a common health condition among children. It is projected that each year, around one in six newborns will have some type of hip issues, and two to three out of every 1,000 babies will need treatment. That said, what causes this condition that plagues the hips of babies and young children?
Mechanical, hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors are to blame for DDH. Firstborn females are more prone to DDH because the uterus is usually smaller with firstborns, leading to a restricted room for movement.
A breech delivery or a baby’s reaction to the mother’s hormones during pregnancy may also lead to DDH. Post-birth, DDH can materialize if a baby is held with extended and adducted hips while swaddled.
Present at birth, DDH is more prevalent in the female gender than the male gender. While this health issue is often diagnosed early on, as a child develops, hip pain may disappear until later stages of development.
Now, let’s move on to the symptoms of this condition. Mothers, how do you know if your child has DDH?
Symptoms of DDH?
The symptoms of DDH differ from child to child. But, common symptoms of DDH are the leg on the side of the displaced hip looking shorter or turning outward, irregular folds in the skin of the thigh or buttocks, including the space between the legs looking wider than it ought to.
A lot of symptoms of DDH are symptoms identical to other hip issues. Always reach out to your child’s physician for the right diagnosis.
Moving forward, how is this condition diagnosed?
How is DDH diagnosed?
DDH is diagnosed via a few methods. For many children, it is diagnosed by routine history and physical inspection during the neonatal period. Newborns are examined for hip issues before going home. However, sometimes, DDH is not noticed until later.
Clinical screening is important for diagnosis with hip tests conducted at birth and future visits throughout childhood. During exams, your child’s pediatrician will ask certain questions concerning risk factors like birth and family background of DDH. Furthermore, multiple tests may be conducted, such as the Ortolani test, Barlow maneuver rays, including ultrasounds. These tests are all designed to detect the presence of DDH.
My child was diagnosed with DDH. What does the future hold?
If your child is diagnosed with DDH, they will be referred to a pediatric orthopedist for necessary treatment. DDH appears differently for every child; treatment isn’t the same as well. Stable hips that become normal don’t require treatment.
But, careful observation, including routine exams, is needed through the child’s development. If unsteady, your pediatric orthopedist can provide treatment alternatives to put and keep the head of the femur back in the hip socket so that the hip can grow.
Why is screening crucial?
Early detection of DDH is important to a child’s development in the future. Many children treated within the first six months end up getting better and go on to develop normally with zero issues down the road. But, the older the child or less successful the realignment, the higher the chances of occurring future issues, including early-onset degenerative hip diseases, arthritis including pains in older patients of treatment, are ignored.
How is DDH treated?
If your child is diagnosed with DDH, they will have to undergo treatment. Treatment for this condition involves trying to manage the pain while protecting the hip joint from additional damage. The doctor will design the treatment to meet your child’s specific needs, so you have nothing to be scared of.
Treatment options of DDH include:
Brace: This particular treatment is for babies under 6 months old. The doctor may use a brace or harness to keep the joint in place while the child grows.
Physical therapy involves engaging the child in mild exercises designed to strengthen the joint and enhance flexibility.
Surgery: This is the most common option. Due to the nature of the misalignment, doctors may have to fix the hip joint with operations like arthroscopy (an invasive process to fix torn labrum, the layer of cartilage around the hip socket): periacetabular osteotomy (realigns the femur into the hip socket); or, overall hip replacement (replaces the hip with an artificial joint).
Can DDH be prevented?
Sadly, most cases of DDH cannot be prevented. But, as a mother, you can reduce your child’s proneness to this condition. To do so, you’ll have to avoid wrapping your baby up too tightly.
DDH isn’t a death sentence, neither is it a health condition that cannot be fixed. Thus, don’t fret if your child is diagnosed with this condition or you observe its symptoms. Simply contact your child’s pediatrician. And if you just put to bed, ensure you take necessary precautions to reduce the chances of your baby developing DDH.