Infant Diagnosis

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

Doctors use a combination of physical exams and imaging such as ultrasound or x-rays to diagnose hip dysplasia. Standard practice in the developed world is to do hip exams for newborns and babies for hip dysplasia at well-baby checkups.

Babies are at increased risk for hip dysplasia in the following situations:

  • The baby is a twin or multiple, or was in a breech position at birth.
  • There is a family history of hip dysplasia.
  • The doctor is concerned about the results of the physical exam.
  • There are signs and symptoms of a possible hip problem, such as a limp in a child of walking age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an ultrasound study at six weeks of age for almost all baby girls who were in the breech, or bottom-first position. Babies with other risk factors may also benefit from an ultrasound, especially when the pediatrician has any concerns about the examination of the hips. An x-ray at four months of age or older is sometimes recommended.

Hip dysplasia can be difficult to diagnose, especially if it is bilateral (both hips are affected) because the hips are symmetrical. The hips could be a little loose, but otherwise fine, and then get progressively worse as the baby gets older, especially if they slip farther out of the socket when the baby is relaxed, such as while sleeping. When both hips are dislocated, the exam is symmetrical.

When a baby with dislocated hips walks, he or she has a waddling gait that is a little more exaggerated than a normal toddler gait. If only one hip is affected, it is easier to spot the affected hip because it can be compared to the other hip. In some cases, hip dislocations have developed in older babies even when the infant exam was normal and the ultrasound was normal at six weeks of age. The cause of these late developing cases is unknown.

Learn about Planning Treatment »

  • Social Media Links

  • Translate Link

    Para ver en Español Click Aquí

  • SubNav Menu

  • Hippo CTA

  • Child CTA

  • Adult CTA

  • Latest News

    Latest News

    view all

    Successful First Effort in Ecuador

    Nov 30

    The International Hip Dysplasia Institute is supporting hip dysplasia ...

    Australian News Story Warns Against Tight Swaddlin...

    Nov 24

    Nicole Williams, a member of the IHDI Medical Advisory Board, is featu...

    Hip-Healthy Products

    Nov 10

    In an effort to recognize and encourage healthy hip development, The I...

  • Latest Stories

    Latest Stories

    view all


    Nov 25

    My passion for open water and marathon swimming has been a gradual pro...


    Nov 18

    Hey guys, I am a 25 year old young woman from Romania (Eastern Europe ...


    Nov 18

    1980s My story begins here, My mother, 19 years old, at six months in...