What could cause a 'click' in a baby's hip?

Our five-week-old daughter has a click in her hip. What does this mean? We have been using disposables but it has been suggested that we use double cloth diapers instead with the thinking that the added bulk will hold her legs apart and allow the ball and socket to develop. Does this make sense?

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

Developmental dislocation of the hip is a condition that occurs in about 1 in 700 births and is characterized by the ball of the hip joint being dislocated (or out of place) from the socket. Some babies are born with ball being in the socket but is easily displaced which makes a "click" or "clunk" when being examined. Then there are normal "clicks" felt by ligaments moving around when being examined. Examination of the hip is a critical part of every newborn, two month, and four month exam because if the ball of the hip is not correctly aligned with the socket, the hip will not develop correctly causing a permanent limp.

The most common cause of developmental dislocation is an uncommon position of the baby while in the uterus. The most common of these positions is breech. However, this condition does seem to run in families leading some to believe that genetic factors may play a role as well.

The clicks you describe may be simple ligamentous clicks which will resolve with time and not cause a permanent problems. However, if the clicks you describe are the symptom of a more serious laxity in the hip joint, your baby will need treatment to ensure the hip develops correctly. While doubling or tripling the diapers do tend to keep the hips in the correct alignment, many orthopedists and pediatricians feel this rarely corrects the problem and may cause unneeded delay in correct treatment. Most treat this problem with a harness which keeps the baby's hips aligned correctly. I suggest you discuss this with your doctor and an orthopedists as soon as possible.

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