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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(9):1304

Author disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

to the editor: The article, “Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip,” provides an informative review and recommends screening for this disorder in infants using physical examination maneuvers based on C level evidence.1 The authors acknowledge that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found insufficient evidence to recommend routine screening because of the high rate of natural resolution of hip abnormalities that are found on physical examination and ultrasonography.2 However, they did not mention other considerations that led to the USPSTF's conclusion: the limited accuracy of diagnostic tests and the lack of evidence of effectiveness for, and potential harm from, surgical and non-surgical treatments.2 These potential harms are not well studied and include unnecessary tests, health care costs, avascular necrosis, and complications of surgery and anesthesia.

The AAFP has adopted a policy that agrees with the USPSTF3; both of these recommendations apply only to infants who are asymptomatic and not to those with obvious hip dislocations or other hip abnormalities.2,3 When judging whether to perform screening tests, family physicians need to evaluate the proven and potential harms and benefits. The former are often underestimated or not considered for procedures supported only by common practice and expert opinion.

Email letter submissions to afplet@aafp.org. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors. Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Letters may be edited to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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