Children that have hypotonia will seem to have very weak, undeveloped muscles. When holding the child, he or she may feel limp and unable to hold itself up. In the past, low muscle tone was usually found in children that suffered from Prader Willi Disease, Tay-sachs, Down’s Syndrome, and other genetic disorders. Today, an increasing number of otherwise healthy children are also being born with hypotonia.
Babies that have hypotonia will usually look normal. At birth, their muscle development is normal; the problem is actually with the central nervous system. The nerves that affect motor control are not communicating properly, causing the problems in movement and muscle tone. However, because the muscles are not being used by the child, they will not build endurance or strength.
The Signs of Hypotonia in Babies
While low muscle tone is more apparent in late toddlerhood, babies will begin to show signs very early on. A normal baby should be able to grasp things in his or her palm by two months of age. By three months, babies should be able to lift their head on their own. If a child cannot do these things, it may be a sign of something serious.
By three months old, babies should also be able to hold their head up while seated. In a seated position, babies should have control of their legs and movements. If a baby sees an object that interests them, they should have enough strength to grab for it. The older a child gets, the more apparent their condition will become.
Is the Doctor Responsible?
The cause of benign hypotonia is not really known. If the condition is associated with another, more serious condition, like cerebral palsy, it may be the fault of the doctor. If a medical error was made during the birth of the child, it may have caused the condition. For example, cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. If the child was left in the birth canal for too long, that may be the fault of the physician.
Hypotonia is also caused by malnutrition, vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, premature birth, Down’s Syndrome, kernicterus, and lysosomal storage diseases. If any of these conditions caused the hypotonia, parents will need to determine if the doctor should have realized the problem. For example, did the doctor advise the mother to improve her diet during her pregnancy? Could the premature birth have been avoided?
However, in some cases, none of these causes are present. To determine the cause of the hypotonia, parents will need to speak with their physician. It can be very difficult to determine fault. If parents believe that their doctor may be responsible, they may need to contact an experienced attorney to advise them on their situation.