What is congenital hip dislocation?

Congenital hip dislocation develops if a child is naturally born with a wobbly hip. It is brought about by anomalous formation of the hip joint during the initial phases of fetal development. Take note that the instability worsens as the child grows.

The hip joint in the child might dislocate sometimes. This indicates that the ball might slip out of its socket during movement.

The exact cause is unknown in most cases. The contributing factors include breech presentation, low levels of amniotic fluid in the womb and family history of the condition. The confinement in the uterus might contribute or cause congenital hip dislocation.

A child is more likely to have the condition if the woman was pregnant for the first time. The reason for this is that the uterus was not previously stretched.


Congenital hip dislocation is common among girls than boys but any infant can develop the condition.

Who are at risk?

Congenital hip dislocation is common among girls than boys but any infant can develop the condition. This is the reason why the doctor will regularly check the newborn for any indications of hip dislocation. The hip of the child is examined continuously during the initial year of life.

Indications of congenital hip dislocation

Symptoms of congenital hip dislocation might not be present. This is the reason why the doctor will routinely test for the condition. If the symptoms arise, it might include:

  • Limited range of movement
  • Legs that turn outwards or varies in length
  • Presence of folds on the legs and buttocks that are uneven if the legs are extended
  • Delayed gross motor development that affects how the child crawls, sits and walks


In case the child is younger than 6 months old and diagnosed with congenital hip dislocation, he/she might be fitted with a Pavlik harness. The harness compresses the hip joints into its sockets. It abducts the hips by locking their legs in a frog-like position.

The child is required to wear the harness for 6-12 weeks, depending on the age and severity of the condition.

If the Pavlik harness is not successful or the child is too large for the harness, surgery is required. The procedure involves maneuvering of the hip into the socket or the tendons are lengthened and remove other hindrances before shifting the hip.

In case the child is 18 months or older or does not respond to treatment, femoral or pelvic osteotomies are needed to reconstruct the hip. The surgeon will reshape or divide the femur head or acetabulum of the pelvis.


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