Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome refers to a condition where the infant has a loss of muscle tone. A healthy baby should demonstrate some amount of muscle strength when moving its arms and legs. This muscle resistance is called muscle tone. however, hypotonia babies show no muscle tone.

However, it is not the same. Although Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome occurs at any age, babies on their first days are commonly affected by it. Psychosocial interventions or rehabilitation programs may be helpful depending on the underlying causes.

The following article will provide information on the signs, causes, diagnoses, and treatments of Hypotonia, also known as Floppy Infant Syndrome in babies.

Related: What is a flat head syndrome in babies and why does it occur?

Floppy infant syndrome – signs and symptoms

Although Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome is usually noticed in babies under six months of age, it can progressively worsen for babies with severe hypotonia or floppy infant syndrome. Ragdoll babies with severe hypotonia or Floppy Infant Syndrome have no muscle strength.

Despite the delayed development of motion, hypotonic or floppy babies do not have impaired intelligence regarding this condition. Clinical symptoms, however, can differ depending on the underlying causes of hypotonia or floppy infant syndrome.

A baby with hypotonia or floppy infant syndrome may display the following signs and symptoms (1):

  • Lack of control on neck muscles leads to a floppy head.
  • Swallowing and sucking problems
  • Arms and legs can slip through your hands while holding
  • Muscles in the shoulders and neck cannot bear weight
  • Weak cry
  • It is not possible to bend elbows, knees, hips, or any other joints, such as the wrists while having a conversation.

Babies with Hypotonia or Floppy Infant Syndrome usually gain control of their heads in the first few months, but it takes a while for them to develop muscle strength before these milestones.

Causes Of Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome
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Causes Of Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome

Various inherited conditions and other factors can cause Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome. Muscles require electrical signals from motor nerves for electrical transmission and contractions of muscle tissues. Any disruption in neuromuscular transmission may lower muscle tone.

  • The central nervous system (CNS) may be affected by neurological disorders leading to central hypotonia or Floppy Infant Syndrome.
  • The movement and coordination problems caused by cerebral palsy are a result of a neurological condition called cerebral palsy.
  • Hemorrhagic meningitis is an infection of the membrane outside the brain.
  • Spinal cord and brain injury.
  • Bleeding within the skull, also known as intracranial bleeding.
  • Encephalitis occurs when there is an infection of the brain.
  • The peripheral nervous system (external to the brain and spinal cord) may be affected by neurological conditions which result in floppy infant syndrome (hypotonia).
  • Increased fatigue and weakness is a symptom of congenital myasthenia gravis.
  • Various genetic conditions can result in muscular weakness and disability causing muscular dystrophy.
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a degenerative disease that damages the myelin layer that forms a protective coating around the spinal cord and the neural structure. This results in muscle weakness and other neurological conditions.
  • Muscle weakness and loss of movement may be a consequence of spinal muscular atrophy.

Floppy infant syndrome or Hypotonia may also be triggered by non-neurological conditions.

  • Since muscle tone is not fully developed at birth, an individual is likely to have a premature birth.
  • People with Down’s syndrome are chromosomally predisposed to developmental delays in the physical and mental domains.
  • Genetic mutations on chromosomes can produce Tay-Sachs disease, which affects the nervous system.
  • It may result in muscle weakness if specific genes are lost in Prader-Willi syndrome.
  • The muscles can also be affected by connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndromes or Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.
  • The hypotonia or floppy infant syndrome may be associated with autism spectrum disorders.

If there is no underlying cause, Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome usually improves over time in young babies. However, some babies are born with benign congenital hypotonia (BCH), which is rarely a cause of Floppy Infant Syndrome and does not worsen over time.

Diagnosis Of Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome

If your pediatrician suspects Hypotonia or Floppy Infant Syndrome, she possibly refers you to a specialist. Family history and medical history are asked during your initial assessment to identify the cause.

To diagnose hypotonia in babies, the tests listed below are ordered:

  • Different genetic disorders and other conditions can be determined by blood tests and genetic testing.
  • CT scans allow imagers to visualize the nerve damage.
  • Any abnormalities can be visualized with an MRI scan.
  • An electroencephalogram is a method that uses electrodes to record brain activity and may identify certain problems, like seizures.
  • A nerve conductance study is a method for measuring electrical signals passing from the brain or spinal cord to the muscles with electrodes over the skin.
  • The electrical activity of the muscles is measured by electromyography or electromyography.
  • Biopsy of muscle tissue can provide information on muscular structural abnormalities.

Treatment For Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome In Babies

Usually, the choice of treatment depends on the underlying cause. Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome is usually not curable although there are some cases where the condition may be cured once the fetus has grown out of the condition.

Based upon the requirements and age of your baby, psychotherapists may design skills training programs that include the following therapies or procedures.

  • Muscles may be strengthened and posture may be improved through physiotherapy.
  • In addition to identifying and providing training on feeding and swallowing, occupational therapists recommend feeding support and provide training on basic day-to-day skills such as feeding or toileting.
  • The speech and language pathologist helps babies develop the skills necessary for linguistic and communication development at an appropriate age.
  • It depends on the baby’s age and severity of hypotonia and floppy infant syndrome on what type of support equipment and mobility solutions are recommended.

The degree of Hypotonia or Floppy Infant Syndrome in babies depends on the underlying causes. The resulting degree may be improved, remains the same, or worsens as they grow. Several genetic conditions or inherited conditions may contribute to the occurrence of this condition.

Despite the lack of a cure for Hypotonia Or Floppy Infant Syndrome, numerous treatments and support equipment may be available that may improve the child’s quality of life.