ABCs of DDH: What moms and dads need to know

Baby with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is seen at Boston Children's Hospital.A family’s journey with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) typically starts when a baby’s pediatrician hears a click in her hips. The next steps often include an ultrasound and a follow-up with an orthopedic surgeon, perhaps a pediatric hip specialist.

College friends Tosha LoSurdo and Jessica Rohrick recently re-connected after their babies were both diagnosed with and treated for DDH at the Boston Children’s Hospital Child and Young Adult Hip Preservation Program.

Tosha’s daughter, Carmela, and Jessica’s daughter, Phallon, were treated with a Pavlik harness and are on a regular follow-up schedule with their pediatric orthopedic surgeons — Drs. Eduardo Novais and Travis Matheney.

The new parents offer advice for other parents whose babies are diagnosed with DDH.

Mom-to-mom advice for infant hip dysplasia

Baby with hip dysplasia cared for at Boston Children's Hospital smiles with mom.


DDHJessica: Don’t let the harness keep you from doing what you want with your baby. I wanted to dress her in pretty little girl baby clothes and take her to the beach. So I did, with the harness on.


toshaTosha: Involve your orthopedic surgeon in your decisions. Dr. Novais encouraged us to wait to use cloth diapers or an infant carrier with Carmela. He wanted to hold all the factors in her care constant to see if the harness was working. Now, we use both types of diapers with Dr. Novais’ guidance. Cloth diapers can be beneficial as they can act like a brace by holding the hips wider.

DDHJessica: Have fun with it. I asked a relative who runs a screen-print business to make onesies that said, “Too Hip for Dysplasia.” I’ve mailed them to other moms in the Facebook group and gave some to Dr. Matheney to share.

toshaTosha: Don’t be discouraged by people’s questions about the brace or harness. Many parents have their own challenges that you don’t know about and are curious how you deal with this additional step in your baby’s care. I also had moms let me know their child had similar treatment and then point out their jumping or dancing child. It was encouraging, like brace-free was any other milestone to reach.


Tosha and Jessica: Reach out to other parents. They are a great resource.


Carmela gets ready to see Dr. Novais at the infant hip clinic.

What is the Boston Children’s infant hip clinic?

The Orthopedic Center at Boston Children’s launched a new service last spring — an infant hip clinic. The purpose of this clinic is to make it easier for patients and families to get the care they need. During this weekly clinic, an ultrasound technician works in the Orthopedic Center so families don’t have to separately schedule visits with Radiology.

Pediatric hip specialists use ultrasound (left) and X-ray (right) to assess babies' hips. For babies younger than 4 to 6 months old, orthopedic surgeons typically use ultrasound as the diagnostic tool. After this age, bone starts to form in the femur head, and X-rays become more reliable.
Pediatric hip specialists typically use ultrasound (left) to assess the hips of babies under 6 months old. After this age, bone starts to form in the femur head, and X-rays (right) become more reliable.

Since then, Tosha and Tindaro have scheduled Carmela’s visits with Novais during the infant hip clinic, and Carmela has her ultrasound exam right before her appointment with Novais.

“There used to be either too much time in between appointments or not enough. Carmela was crying or missing naps or feedings, which were critical given her low birth weight,” says Tosha. “Now, our monthly check-ins are calmer and much easier. We can make the most of the appointment and talk through our questions and challenges with minimal disruption to Carmela’s routine.”


Learn how our hip specialists care for babies with developmental dysplasia of the hip.