The infant in this case attended the GP with her mother on several occasions from the age of six months, after the mother raised concerns with her health visitor. She was worried that her infant seemed to have reduced movement in the left leg compared to the right, as well as visual mismatch in the shape of her buttocks and leg lengths.
Despite the signs of possible DDH, no referral to hospital paediatric services was made until seven months later. At that point, the infant was diagnosed with severe DDH requiring complex open surgery. The delay in diagnosis had a negative impact and she will now suffer from avoidable lifelong problems.
All parents should be alert to the symptoms of possible undiagnosed DDH. In this case the parental observations and requests led to the eventual diagnosis, but regrettably the GP’s repeated failings meant that the appropriate specialist medical response was seriously delayed.
Hip joints are normally checked in the days and weeks after birth, though signs of DDH may emerge at a later stage. The left hip is more susceptible, although both hips may be affected, and DDH is more likely in girls and firstborn children. NHS statistics suggest that 1 or 2 on every 1,000 babies have DDH that requires treatment to avert problems that may include a limp, joint pain and stiff joints.