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Newborn hip screening

All babies should have a Neonatal and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) within 72 hours of birth. This is part of a national screening programme supported by Public Health England. The baby’s hips are clinically assessed as part of this examination. This is to look for a condition known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Any potential risk factors for DDH are also identified in this examination.

What is developmental dysplasia of the hip?

In DDH the socket of the hip joint is too shallow, and the rounded head of the femur is not held tightly within the socket. In severe cases the head of the femur can come out of the socket (dislocate).

What are the risk factors for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH)?

  • Family history (parents/siblings) of DDH
  • Your baby is in a breech position (feet/bottom pointing down) in the last month of pregnancy
  • Your baby is born in a breech position
  • You have twins or triplets, and one of the babies has a risk factor for DDH; each of the other babies will also be referred for an ultrasound

What happens in the examination?

A trained practitioner (midwife/paediatrician) will gently move the baby’s hips to see if they feel stable. This will not hurt the baby. They will also enquire about any of the risk factors stated above.

What happens if there is an abnormality?

  • If the hips feel unstable the baby will be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for further assessment.
  • If the hips are stable but risk factors are identified the baby will be sent for an ultrasound scan (US) which should happen within 6 weeks of age.
  • If the hips are abnormal on the ultrasound scan the patient will be referred to the orthopaedic team.

How is developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) treated?

  • Babies diagnosed with DDH early in life are treated with a fabric splint called a Pavlik harness. This holds the hips in a stable position and allows them to grow into the correct position. Most babies are successfully treated with this.
  • If the harness is not successful or DDH is diagnosed after 6 months of age, surgery may be required.

What can you do to help your baby?

  • If an ultrasound scan has been recommended it is very important to attend this appointment because early diagnosis will ensure the best results.
  • If you cannot make the appointment, please call the radiology department on 01296316908 at the earliest opportunity to reschedule the appointment. Please note this can lead to a delay as ultrasound slots are booked up several weeks in advance.


We understand that in the current situation you may be anxious about coming to hospital. Please feel reassured that the hospital has taken steps to reduce the chances of catching the virus and you should bring your baby for their appointment to avoid a delayed diagnosis.