Congenital Dysplasia of the Hip





Congenital dysplasia of the hip (CDH), more currently referred to as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), is a condition wherein there is an instability or looseness of the hip joint. The terms used to name this condition is dependent on the severity and period of occurrence, as this is not just a childhood condition. Among the terms used to address this condition are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
  • Developmental Dislocation of the Hip
  • Acetabular Dysplasia
  • Hip Dislocation
  • Congenital Dislocation of the Hip

When using the term congenital dysplasia/dislocation of the hip, it usually refers to a birth defect where there are missing or additional tissues around the hip joint. Developmental dysplasia/dislocation of the hip, on the other hand, typically means that the patient’s joint is anatomically normal, but unstable.

Generally, hip dysplasia cases feature a shallow socket (acetabulum), thus the head of the thigh bone (femur) is not firmly in place. In some cases, the ligaments that should hold the joint together are stretched, allowing the joint to become loose and unstable. The degree of instability of the hip joint then varies. In severe cases, it can be dislocated—the head of the femur is totally out of the acetabulum (can either be high or low). Some cases, the joint is simply dislocatable—the head of the femur is within the acetabulum, but can easily be taken out of the socket upon movement. In mild cases, the joint is subluxatable—the joint is merely loose in the socket and can be moved around within it, but not out of it.

A study conducted by Storer and Skaggs in 2006, mentioned that hip dysplasia occurs in one out of 1,000 infants. These figures indicate that this condition is quite a common occurrence.



The underlying cause of congenital dysplacia of the hip is largely unknown; however, there are factors that indicate that it is highly developmental in nature, as it can develop during birth, after birth, or even during early childhood.

Family history increases the risk for hip dysplasia. Other contributing factors that increase the risk for incidence are low levels of amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios) and babies delivered in a breech presentation. Hip dysplasia also tends to occur more in girls, and in first-born children.


Signs and Symptoms

Hip dysplasia is one of the conditions that are routinely checked by pediatricians upon childbirth up until the first few years of the child. This is because there may be no presenting symptoms for congenital dysplasia of the hip. However, if symptoms do manifest, the may include the following:

  • Legs that differ in length and may turn outward;
  • Thigh and buttock skin folds that are uneven;
  • Limited mobility on one leg/hip;
  • Clicking or popping sounds coming from the hip joint;
  • Delay in gross motor development such as sitting, crawling, or walking; and
  • Limping or a waddling gait.



The treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the age of the patient and the severity of the case. Parents can choose to have either surgical or non-surgical treatments for their child’s condition.

Harnesses or braces may be used on infants to ensure proper development of the ligaments and the joint. The length of time that the patient needs to wear the supportive device may be dependent on the severity of the dysplasia.

If the surgical route is necessary, it can be either done through open or closed reduction, again depending on the severity of the case. This is done to maneuver the joint into place. For more drastic cases, a surgical procedure may be performed in order to reconstruct the hip.

Treatment for congenital dysplasia of the hip are usually successful, however, the patient may need to continue visiting an orthopedic specialist to ensure that the condition does not come back.


Disability Tax Credits for Dysplasia of the Hip

If you have a child who has been diagnosed and/or treated for congenital dysplasia of the hip, he/she may benefit from a disability savings plan from the Canadian Revenue Agency. Armed with a certification coming from a qualified physician, you can file for disability benefits for your child. In order to make life easy for you, call on the HandyTax hotline; a friendly representative would be more than willing to help you with your need.