How To Diagnose & Treat Floppy Baby Syndrome

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floppy baby syndrome
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The common name of Hypotonia is Floppy baby syndrome. Hypotonia is a state of poor muscle growth of the infant. This can be detected during pregnancy or at the time of the birth of the baby.

The strength of the muscle is very low. Floppy baby syndrome affects the functioning of motor nerve control of the brain.

One type of Hypotonia originates from the central nervous system which is known as Central Hypotonia whereas another type of Hypotonia originates in the spinal cord or skeletal muscles which are known as Peripheral Hypotonia. 

  • The baby may appear limb if suffering from floppy infant syndrome. 
  • The baby cannot bend their knees and elbows.
  • Hypotonia is recognized very easily.
  • The child may suffer during diagnosis and the body may not grow properly. 

Clinical features of Central hypotonia 

There are some of the clinical features of Central floppy baby syndrome:

  • Preserved muscle power
  • Axial weakness
  • Fist of hands do not open easily
  • Tendon reflexes points are absent

Clinical features of Peripheral Hypotonia

 Some features of Peripheral floppy baby syndrome:

Signs and symptoms of floppy baby syndrome

The baby with Hypotonia is not able to move his arms and legs easily as they are not so strong. It is not important that Hypotonia occurs only when the baby is born, in fact, it can develop at any age. 

Floppy baby symptoms in children and infants:

  • No or very poor control on the head.
  • The baby will not be able to do motor skills movements like crawling. 
  • The baby may not be able to chew or suck food for a longer period. 
  • Muscles feel soft and hands or legs hang straight. 

Hypotonia symptoms at any age:

  • Strength and muscle tone decreased.
  • Reflexes become poor.
  • The posture is not proper.
  • The decrease in activity endurance. 

Floppy baby syndrome causes

The cause of floppy infant syndrome can occur when there is a problem with the nervous or muscular system. In some cases, the cause of Hypotonia cannot be identified. When the cause of the floppy baby syndrome is not identifiable then it is known as benign congenital hypotonia

Mostly hypotonia is related to some other cause:

  • Baby does not get oxygen before or just after birth which makes brain damage
  • Issues with the formation of the brain in the womb
  • Nerve disorders
  • Achondroplasia
  • Injury in the spinal cord
  • Severe infections

Genetic causes of the floppy baby syndrome:

  • Down syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Trisomy 13

In chronic conditions, the patient has to take lifelong treatment. The therapy is easy for the baby suffering from hypotonia due to Down syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome but the life span is short for the one who suffered from hypotonia due to Tay-Sachs disease or Trisomy 13. That doesn’t mean the baby cannot recover from the disorder. There are different therapies through which the baby can recover from the disorder.

Another cause of hypotonia

One of the causes of floppy baby syndrome is botulism infection. It is also known as infant botulism. In this type of floppy baby syndrome bacteria named Clostridium botulinum to grow in the digestive tract of the infant.

The bacteria will produce toxin in the digestive tract of the infant which becomes life-threatening for the baby. The poison is so strong that the infant can die from it. 

floppy baby syndrome causes

When to prefer a doctor

Mostly at the time of birth, the floppy baby syndrome is diagnosed but in some cases, it is developed after some time. In later cases, parents should keep an eye on the movements and growth of the child. Normal children develop properly and grow body muscle mass.

The body postures, bone movements, motor skills development, and control on body movements are the signs of normal children. There are 2 types of motor skills:

  • Gross motor skills: It is the ability of an infant that he/she lying on its stomach can pull up the head easily and also can roll from its back to the stomach. The gross motor skills start to develop from crawling, walking, running, and jumping. During the age, the child develops these skills by itself but the baby suffering from floppy baby syndrome will not be able to develop such motor skills.
  • Fine motor skills: When the child is able to grasp things easily, carry the object, and transfer it from one place to another, etc. The normal child is able to do these movements but floppy baby syndrome children cannot move things from one place to another, not able to follow toys and many more things. 

When parents do not see these skills in the child after some time of birth then immediately they should take their child to the doctor and diagnose properly. Regular treatment helps to cure the disorder fast.

Floppy baby syndrome treatment

For treating floppy baby syndrome there are different therapies that are followed by doctors. 

  • Physical therapy: This therapy treats fine motor skills and develops the overall body strength of the baby. 
  • Occupational and speech-language therapy: In this therapy, the baby is treated with swallowing of food, improving breathing, and speech. 

The initiation of a child’s treatment is based on some factors like: 

  • Age and overall health of the child
  • Condition of the child
  • The underlying cause of the condition
  • Reactions of a child towards therapies and medications
  • Opinion of parents
floppy baby syndrome treatment

Nutritional Concerns

The child suffering from floppy baby syndrome is not able to suck the food properly or sometimes they do not have the sucking system at all. The child is not able to intake the nutrition so there are some techniques to provide nutrition to the child.

  • Special nipples
  • Mouth and jaw manipulation
  • Insertion of a gastrostomy tube (a rare condition)

Floppy baby syndrome Prognosis

In every case, the result may defer and mainly it depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Floppy baby syndrome can be treated in a short period of time or it may be lifelong. Some children slowly develop gross motor skills and fine motor skills. The mild hypotonia children do not face developmental delay issues.