What is Congenital Hip Dislocation (Congenital Hip Dysplasia)?

Congenital hip dysplasia, also known as congenital hip dislocation, is a developmental abnormality that affects the hip joint in newborns and infants. This condition arises from an abnormality in the formation of the hip joint during foetal development, leading to misalignment or dislocation of the hip joint components. The exact cause of congenital hip dysplasia remains unknown, but several factors have been identified that increase the risk of its occurrence.

One significant risk factor is the presence of low levels of amniotic fluid in the womb during pregnancy. Amniotic fluid plays a crucial role in foetal development, including the formation of joints and bones. Insufficient levels of amniotic fluid can impact the proper development of the hip joint, increasing the likelihood of dysplasia or dislocation.

Furthermore, certain prenatal conditions and circumstances can also contribute to the risk of congenital hip dysplasia. Being the first child in the family, a breech position during pregnancy (where the baby’s buttocks or feet are positioned downward toward the birth canal instead of the head) or having a larger-than-average foetus can all increase the risk of hip dysplasia. These factors may exert mechanical pressure on the developing hip joint, leading to abnormal growth or positioning.

Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that a family history of hip dysplasia or related orthopaedic conditions can predispose infants to this condition. Genetic factors likely play a role in the development of congenital hip dysplasia, although the specific genes involved have not been fully elucidated.

Symptoms of congenital hip dysplasia can vary widely, ranging from subtle signs to more pronounced indicators as the child grows. In some cases, the condition may not show any noticeable symptoms initially. However, as the baby begins to move and bear weight on the hips, signs such as favouring one side, having a visibly shorter leg, or uneven skin folds around the thigh and groin area may become apparent.

If congenital hip dysplasia is not detected and addressed before the child starts walking, symptoms may progress and manifest as limping, toe walking, or even secondary issues such as scoliosis, which is a lateral curvature of the spine. Routine physical examinations conducted during infancy and early childhood are crucial for the early detection and diagnosis of congenital hip dysplasia. Orthopaedic specialists often perform specific manoeuvres and imaging studies to assess hip joint stability and structure, enabling timely interventions such as bracing or surgical correction if necessary. Early detection and intervention significantly improve the prognosis and outcomes for children with congenital hip dysplasia, promoting proper hip joint development and functionality as they grow.

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