dr. Gary Nattrass

Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hip Dysplasia - Infant, Baby and Newborn

An abnormal development of the hip joint that can present in newborns, infants, children and adolescents

developmental dysplasia of the hip DDH

What is Developmental Dysplasia Of The Hip (DDH)?

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip, or DDH, is a condition in which the hip joint does not develop properly in infants and young children.

In a normal hip joint, the head of the femur (thigh bone) fits snugly into the acetabulum (hip socket). In DDH, the hip joint may be shallow or misaligned, causing the head of the femur to be partially or completely dislocated from the hip socket.

This can lead to hip pain and difficulty with movement, and if left untreated, DDH can cause long-term problems with the hip joint.


Treatment for Baby Hip Dysplasia

As a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, Gary has a long-time interest and a deep understanding of the journey parents are faced with hip dysplasia.

He offers a caring and understanding approach, addressing not only the physical condition but also the emotional well-being of the entire family.

His practice of paediatric orthopaedics ranges from working non-operatively with hip bracing programs in newborns, to complex femoral osteotomies in adolescents and young adults.

Gary has treated countless babies and children – assisting them in regaining their mobility, with parents consistently reporting that they are pleased with their child’s recovery.

He is committed to staying current with the latest advancements in paediatric orthopaedic medicine and uses modern techniques and state-of-the-art technology to provide the best possible outcomes for his patients.


Quick Facts about DDH


Hereditary/Birth Defect

Signs/ Symptoms

Stiff joints, limping, asymmetry of legs or hips


Hip Brace/Surgery

Treatment Process



Brace N/A/Surgery 3 months

Covered under Medicare?

Yes, select patients may be eligible

Hip Dysplasia Fact Sheet

Royal Childrens Hospital Melbourne Logo

Download the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip fact sheet.

Play Video

*NOTE: Pavlik Harness as mentioned in this video is only one possible treatment option and others can be used. We continue to use the latest and most effective treatment options to treat DDH.

Hip Dysplasia FAQs

The exact cause of DDH is not fully understood; however, it is thought to be related to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors including: 

  • Babies born in breech position
  • Family history
  • Associated with other newborn disorders such as torticollis and metatarsus adductus
  • Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid during pregnancy)
  • DDH is also more common in females, first borns and twins
  • Sometimes there is absolutely no predisposing factor – it just happens!

Hip Dysplasia is the most common hip problem in infants and affects 1 in 600 females and 1 in 3,000 males. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent long-term hip complications.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in babies include

  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in the hip 
  • Asymmetry of legs or hips
  • Pain in the hip, groin, thigh or knee
  • Clicking or popping sound in the hip 
  • Limping or toe walking 


DDH can also be asymptomatic and your child may not have any obvious symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia treatment includes

  • A brace (Pavlik harness) to gently guide the hip into the correct position 
  • Surgery may be necessary to reposition the hip joint and stabilise it in the correct position though this is likely to be necessary for older children and adolescents

Exercises such as Tummy time, Leg kicks and Pelvic tilts can help strengthen muscles around the hip joint and improve stability for babies with Hip Dysplasia, however, there are no long-term cures other than a hip abduction brace or surgical management.

Untreated Hip Dysplasia in children can lead to degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) in adolescence and adulthood, which can cause chronic pain and reduced mobility.

Vic Ortho Staff

Speak to our friendly team​

Not all conditions and symptoms are alike. If you have a concern about your child’s wellbeing or would like to direct questions to Gary Nattrass you may contact our friendly team on 03 9322 3360.

We will gladly take your call and assist you with your enquiry.