Clicky Hips in Babies

7 min read

Clicky Hips in Babies

Parenting is a wonderful phase of life and each milestone your child goes through brings in a lot of joy, satisfaction, and excitement. As a parent, though, you must also keep a close eye on any deviations from normal growth and development in your little ones. Clicky hips in babies is a developmental anomaly that can occur at the time when your baby’s hips start to develop. When your infant starts moving their arms and legs, the joints start working. Gradually these joints develop, your baby’s body movement starts improving, and looks like the replica of the adults. But if you observe any abnormal body posture or movements like a shorter leg, uneven thigh or buttock skin, or  abnormal hip movement, it is a matter of concern.

More often than not, your baby may be suffering from developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) or clicky hips. This condition occurs when the ball and socket joint in the hip does not work properly. In this article, we will discuss in depth about clicky hips in babies, the causes, identification, the diagnosis, and treatment, and how common this condition is.

In This Article

What is Clicky Hips in Babies?

Clicky hips, medically known as Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a congenital dislocation of the hip. The hip joint has a combination of the thigh bone (femur) and the pelvis. The upper part of the thigh bone (the femoral head) has a ball-type shape. It sits inside the pelvis which has a cup-shaped cavity, known as a socket. The ball head of the femur moves in almost all directions making it a universal joint. This is very important to have a proper insertion of the ball inside the socket for perfect movement.

In DDH, the depth of the socket is not enough to fit the head of the femur or the ball inside the pelvic cavity properly. In the worst case scenario, the ball can come out of the socket creating dislocation. As per studies, about 1 to 2 out of 1000 babies have this problem and need to be treated. DDH can affect one or both hips but generally, reports say that the left hip is more prone to DDH.

How Common is Developmental Dysplasia in Babies?

Now when discussing this serious condition in babies, the first question that comes to anyone’s mind is whether Developmental Dysplasia of the hip is common in babies or not. It is said that the problem is common, and the most severe cases (dislocated hips) are observed after birth, but a majority (>80%) of the patients don’t even know that they are suffering from this disorder till early adulthood.

Which Babies are More Susceptible to DDH?

hip dysplasia correct position

Medical reports and studies have revealed that 1 out of 100 infants faces some hip abnormalities at birth. Also, 1 to 2 out of 1000 babies have dislocated hips from their birth. Depending on different studies and data, pediatricians have enlisted the below possible types of babies who are susceptible to DDH.

  • This phenomenon has been observed mostly in girls and firstborn children.
  • If the family has a medical history of Developmental Dysplasia of the hip, those babies are also at risk of this disorder.
  • Babies having breech positions during pregnancy are prone to DDH. This means that the bottom side of the baby is in a downward position.

Is Hip Dysplasia in Babies Hereditary?

Yes, medical studies have proven the fact that the disorder of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip in babies can be a hereditary issue. If there is any family history of DDH, especially if in parents or siblings, then there is a chance of Developmental Dysplasia of the hip in the newborn also. Along with the partly genetic cause, there is an internal (inside mother) environmental impact also. We will discuss this later.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Babies

causes of Clicky Hips in Babies

You may be wondering about the causes of such a critical disorder. There are many reasons, some are hereditary, some are hormonal, and many more. Here is a list of probable causes for this DDH in children.

1. Being the First Child

The uterus remains tighter during the first-time pregnancy. The fetus is unable to move freely inside the mother’s womb which, in turn, creates an obstacle in the joint development of the fetus.

2. Overweight Baby (Greater Than 4 KG Weight)

As per the study of NCBI, the infant body mass index may cause DDH.

3. Breech Presentation

Babies often have an inverted position inside the womb. This means instead of the head, the leg/hip joint is at the bottom side. The breech position does not allow the fetus to be in the folded fetal position; rather, their legs are extended in a straighter way. This position often does not allow limb movement in the fetus.

4. Overdue Delivery

Overdue delivery is one of the reasons for an overweight baby. The size of the baby also significantly increases after 42 weeks. These factors may cause deformation in the joints.

5. Family History of DDH

It has been observed that babies who have family members suffering from this disorder have  chances of developing Developmental Dysplasia of the hip. This means babies with elder siblings with DDH are at a higher risk.

6. Inside the Womb Environment

During pregnancy, the change in hormonal behavior inside the mother’s body is very common. Many studies say that the response of the unborn to the mother’s hormone may cause DDH also. Tight uterus can also cause  DDH.

7. Tight Swaddling

It is often a practice to swaddle your baby for a night of better sleep. But tight swaddling may hinder his/her movement of the joints and can cause DDH. Ensure that your baby can move their legs and arms freely when swaddled.

[Read : How To Swaddle A Baby: Best Tips For Swaddling]

Warning Signs to Look Out for Hip Dysplasia in Babies

Every baby is different and similarly, the symptoms of DDH may also vary from one child to another. But some common observations can tell you about the disorder.

  • Shorter leg on the other side of the hip.
  • The leg on the affected hip may appear a little bit twisted.
  • Skin folds may be observed on the affected hip and buttocks.
  • Wider space between the legs than normal.
[Read : Bow Legged Baby- Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment]

How to Diagnose Clicky Hips in Babies?

Ultrasound  done on baby

DDH can be observed at birth. Generally, after the birth, the doctor thoroughly examines your baby and lets you go home. But sometimes, it is prominent afterward. During a later diagnosis, your doctor does a detailed examination of your baby and may ask you about the delivery position, family history of DDH.

There are some other ways too to diagnose this issue like

1. X-Ray

To get a clear picture of the hip joint, the positioning of the ball and socket joint, doctors may suggest an X-ray of the bones.

2. Ultrasound or Sonography

With the use of high-frequency sound waves, this process tells a lot about the internal organs, abnormalities, and positions of the bones.

Treatment for Clicky Hips in Babies

Harness to correct Hip Dysplasia

The treatment options vary depending on the age of the baby, the severity of the condition and the symptoms observed. The objective of the treatment is to set the ball inside the socket properly. Some of the common treatment procedures include

1. Special Brace or Harness

For babies up to 6 months of age, braces are used to correct the condition. The healthcare provider puts one harness on the specific place so that the joint remains in place and the baby can move the legs also.

2. Casting

Spacia casting is another way to resolve this issue. The baby needs to have this casting for 2 to 4 months.

3. Surgery

If the above 2 procedures do not help, the doctor suggests going for open surgery. After the surgery, the baby has to wear the casting for 6 months and needs muscle therapy after the cast is removed. This improves muscle strength.

Preventing Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip in Infants

This condition generally cannot be prevented as it is nobody’s fault. A few precautions, though, can be taken post-birth.

After the birth of your baby, the joints are pretty flexible. Therefore, do not swaddle your baby too tight. This can restrict the movement of the limbs and may cause this disorder. Make sure he/she can move the hip and limbs in a swaddling position.

Clicky hips in babies is a condition  that most often occurs during birth and can occur due to various reasons beyond control. Careful observation of your baby’s movements and an early medical intervention can help correct this condition.


1. Is Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip(DDH) Common in Babies?

Studies say that 1 to 2 children out of 1000 suffer from this disorder. This condition can be cured through proper treatment.

2. Is Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip(DDH) Hereditary?

Heredity is one of the reasons for DDH. If there is any family history then the child is prone to this problem.

3. Whether Treatments are Available For Clicky Hips?

Yes, there are different types of treatment available for clicky hips in Babies. It depends on the severity and age of the baby.

Read Also: Crooked Feet In Babies

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