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Alternative namesFloppy; Decreased muscle tone; Hypotonic infant
DefinitionHypotonia involves decreased muscle tone. Infants with hypotonia seem floppy and feel like a "rag doll" does when held.
Hypotonia is often a sign of a worrisome abnormality and may suggest the presence of central nervous system dysfunction, genetic disorders, or muscle disorders.
Hypotonic infants rest with their elbows and knees loosely extended, while infants with normal tone tend to have flexed elbows and knees. Head control may be poor or absent in the floppy infant with the head falling to the side, backward, or forward.
Infants with normal tone can be lifted with the parent's hands placed under the armpits, while hypotonic infants tend to slip between the hands as the infant's arms rise unresistingly upward.
Extra care must be taken when lifting and carrying a hypotonic infant to avoid causing an injury to the child.
Call your health care provider if
The family history and the child's medical history will be obtained. A physical examination will be performed. Most of the disorders associated with hypotonia also cause other symptoms that, when taken together, will suggest a particular disorder.
Medical history questions documenting hypotonia in detail may include:
The physical examination will probably include a detailed nervous system and muscle function examination.
Diagnostic tests will vary depending on the suspected cause of the hypotonia.
AFTER SEEING YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
Update Date: 5/20/2002Elizabeth Hait, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT