Parents always want the best for their child. They ensure that the child gets the best protection in terms of health, guarding strongly against things that carry the potential to cause uneasiness and discomfort to the infant. Having a child at home is a full time job, leaving you with lesser time for yourself than you think. However in spite of your best efforts, there are certain unforeseen and untreatable conditions that render parents helpless despite having the best of best medical support.
One such condition found in infants is Hypotonia. It is commonly called ‘Floppy Baby Syndrome’ and has been found in infants aged between 6 to 12 months. While muscle weakness is not the only symptom, it is a common occurrence. Hypotonia is not a specific medical disorder, but a potential manifestation of many different diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control by the brain or muscle strength.
A child affected with hypotonia experiences the inability to contract its muscles at a given speed. The babies thus acquire a ‘floppy’ appearance- the head control tends to be poor, infants often rest with the knees and elbows extended loosely, and the legs and arms hang limply most of the time. This could even hinder speech and cause difficulty in chewing or sucking for long spells.
It may sound strange but an Indian couple in Dubai has been forced to turn their one-bedroom apartment into a makeshift Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for their ailing eight-month-old son because of mounting expense bill in the hospital which they couldn’t afford to treat their eight month old son.
Mohammed Ibrahim suffers from central hypotonia, a condition that leads to poor muscle development, and needs to be supported on a ventilator with 24/7 monitoring.There are no common conditions for hypotonia which may be varying with respect to the cause underlying certain conditions. Motor skills delay is often observed, along with hypermobile or hyperflexible joints, drooling and speech difficulties, poor reflexes, decreased strength, decreased activity tolerance, rounded shoulder posture, with leaning onto supports, and poor attention. The extent and severity of the hypotonia also depends upon the age as well. For instance, some people with hypotonia may experience constipation, while others have no bowel problems.
While the direct causes of Hypotonia are difficult to encircle, scientists hold the opinion that the medical condition may be triggered by any traumatic incident or be succeeded by terminal disorders that relate to genetic conditions or the workings of the central nervous system.
The long-term effects of hypotonia on a child’s development and later life depend primarily on the severity of the muscle weakness and the nature of the cause. Some of the ailments have specific treatment but the principal treatment for most hypotonia is physical therapy, occupational therapy for remediation, and/or music therapy.
With mild congenital hypotonia there is no treatment required, but periodical check-ups might be helpful for conditions directly associated with the problem, such as frequent incidences of joint dislocations.
Physiotherapy aids in certain cases helps in enhancing motor control and improves the strength of the body. For children and infants, therapy could also encompass sensory stimulation programs. On the other hand, occupational therapy, in addition to speech-language therapy can lessen problems related to speech, breathing, and difficulties associated with swallowing.
Treatment procedures help to increase the muscle strength, while sensory stimulation procedures will help to understand the cause of the syndrome. Medical supervision and guidance must be followed religiously with no exemptions made in this regard. Close monitoring of the baby’s progress should then determine the number of follow-up procedures. With a proper treatment schedule, there is still a hope of giving a normal life to the baby.
Hypotonia is a symptom more than a disease or a condition in itself. In case if you notice some abnormality, you can reach out to LifeCell Baby Shield- Newborn Screening test for hypothyroidism, amino acid, urea cycle or fatty acid conditions, to check whether the infant presents with the metabolic crisis.