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Alternative Names Return to topDecreased muscle tone; Floppy infant
Definition Return to top
Hypotonia is decreased muscle tone.
Considerations Return to top
Hypotonia is often a sign of a worrisome problem. It may be a sign of a central nervous system problem, genetic disorder, or muscle disorder.
It can affect children or adults.
Infants with hypotonia seem floppy and feel like a "rag doll" does when held. They 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, 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.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Extra care must be taken when lifting and carrying a person with hypotonia to avoid causing an injury.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your pediatrician if your child appears floppy, especially if he or she previously seemed to have normal muscle control.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about the patient's family and medical history, including:
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. Most of the conditions associated with hypotonia also cause other symptoms that together will suggest a particular disorder.
References Return to top
Yeh PC, Kipp MA. A case of Moebius syndrome in association with Klinefelter syndrome. Ophthalmic Genet. 2002 Sep;23(3):185-9.Update Date: 11/9/2007 Updated by: Deirdre O’Reilly, M.D., M.P.H., Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.