Floppy baby syndrome is a condition which can present itself as a result of a variety of medical problems or illnesses. It is not a syndrome in its own right, but occurs as a symptom of another condition. In most cases it is characterized by lack of muscle tone, muscle weakness, and lack of muscle control. Babies with this condition often flop when picked up, much like a doll, and exhibit little or no ability to hold their heads up or control movement.
There are a variety of conditions which may result in floppy baby syndrome. These can include Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, meningitis, sepsis, Prader-Willi syndrome, and polio. There is no cure for this condition, but treatments are available for many conditions which cause it. Some are curable while others may result in life-long disabilities or even death.
In some instances floppy baby syndrome may be the first noticeable indication of illness, although this is not always the case. If parents notice their child is limp upon being picked up or if a child seems lethargic and inactive, medical attention should be sought right away. This does not include infants who are picked up during a deep sleep, as they may seem floppy for several minutes until fully waking. If an infant remains in a limp state even when fully awake, this is indicative of a problem.
Sometimes no underlying condition can be found, and in these cases floppy baby syndrome is usually incurable. Treatments can be given to help strengthen muscle tone and allow children to develop some function, although the success of these treatments will usually depend on the age of the child, the underlying cause of symptoms, and how long the condition was present before help was sought.
Some infants may provide warning signs that floppy baby syndrome is present. If the underlying cause is found and treated immediately, the condition may be stopped before it becomes a serious problem. Babies who refuse to nurse or take a bottle with no other apparent cause should be examined by a doctor. Other symptoms may include lack of crying or eye contact and regression in learned skills such as kicking, smiling, lifting the head and shoulders, or crawling.