Newborn hypotonia is one of the most common presenting features of a defect or birth injury related to an infant’s neurologic functioning. It is also known by the more descriptive name of floppy infant syndrome. These babies have poor control of their muscles and movement and are described as “floppy,” much like a ragdoll.
Hypotonia translates to a lack of muscle tone, but this can display in many different ways. These babies cannot control their posture and hold their muscles stiff. They may also experience:
- Head flopping
- Inability to bend their joints
- Difficulties with swallowing or sucking
Congenital hypotonia may be a sign of cerebral palsy or another motor disorder, systemic illness, or traumatic brain injury, among other concerning causes.
Common Causes of Newborn Hypotonia
Injuries or conditions that cause dysfunction of the central nervous system can lead to hypotonia in a newborn. This can include birth injuries, infections, genetic conditions, and even premature birth.
According to the Journal of Clinical Neuromuscular Disease, at least one study points to cerebral palsy and intellectual disability as the two top causes of floppy infant syndrome. Both of these conditions may occur due to oxygen deprivation during gestation, labor, or delivery.
How a Birth Injury Can Lead to Newborn Hypotonia
When the brain goes without oxygen for more than a few minutes, brain cells begin to die, and brain damage occurs. In these children, that damage may have affected the parts of the brain tasked with muscle coordination and motor activity.
It is important to note that several causes of newborn hypotonia and its related brain injuries are preventable. While this is not always the case, doctors can often identify risk factors for potential birth injuries and take precautions.
If these risk factors were present or labor complications occurred but went unaddressed, it can indicate negligence on the care provider’s part. These children’s families may have a viable medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital responsible.
Newborn Hypotonia Could Qualify as a Disability
When babies do not have the necessary muscle tone or posture, it can have serious effects on their lives, even through adulthood.
Children suffering from hypotonia as infants can experience a number of delays, movement patterns, and motor difficulties. Therapy and other treatments may help in mild cases, especially if the underlying cause resolves.
However, hypotonia linked to severe conditions may not improve. In addition to poor muscle control, these children may experience:
- Delayed development of both gross and fine motor skills
- Delays in reaching motor-related milestones
- Difficulty with posture, whether sitting or standing
- Very “loose” joints with an increased range of motion
- Unstable gait
- Difficulty with balance
- Significant issues with coordination
- Abnormal motor patterns
Newborn Hypotonia and Your Birth Injury Case
Since newborn hypotonia is generally a symptom of a systemic condition, your child’s diagnosis will play an important part in filing a malpractice case against the doctor or medical care facility.
If you can show that your child’s condition is due to birth asphyxia or another preventable birth injury, you may be able to hold the doctor accountable and recover compensation for your child’s ongoing care and support.
A payout in a birth injury case might include damages such as:
- Medical care costs
- Missed wages for the time you had to take off work
- Future expenses for ongoing care your child may require
- Intangible losses for your child’s pain and suffering
Laws that Can Affect a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Each state has its own laws for medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries. For example, your state may require expert testimony from a medical care provider who works in a similar area of medicine and can weigh in on your case.
This expert will review your child’s medical records to determine where the standard of care was lacking. They can also give insight into your child’s possible prognosis and recommended future care.
Birth injury lawyers generally represent the families of injured newborns based on contingency. They will use their resources to develop a strong case and cover any expenses that arise during the process. They will receive attorney’s fees only if they recover a payout for you.
Speak with Our Team to Get Help Today
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group team will ask you questions to assess your case and examine the best approach for holding the liable doctor or facility accountable, if possible. Call today for a complimentary case assessment at (800) 222-9529. We have someone waiting to take your call and provide you with the answers you need.