Congenital Hypotonia in Toddlerhood

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Abstract

CASE: David is a 22-month-old boy who is new to your practice. He recently moved from a rural area in the Midwest. His father is in the United States Air Force, and his mother works as a full-time homemaker. Their household includes 5 older siblings. The family moves every year because of the father's Air Force placement.

David was born full-term in Virginia, with no reported pregnancy complications and no alcohol, tobacco, or drug exposure. He was delivered vaginally, with Apgar scores of 7 and 9, respectively and no respiratory issues. In the newborn nursery, his nurse noted that he was floppy, with generalized low muscle tone. Laboratory work performed included normal thyroid studies and a chromosomal microarray.

Because of persistent hypotonia, he was seen by a pediatric neurologist at 9 months of age. A magnetic resonance imaging was performed and was normal, with no structural deficits noted. He was referred to Early Intervention at 6 months, when he was not yet rolling over. He received physical therapy for a few months before the family moved again for his father's next placement.

David presents in your office as a sweet nondysmorphic toddler who maintains steady eye contact and smiles responsively. His height, head circumference, and weight are at the 50th percentile. His physical examination is notable for generalized hypotonia, with intact upper and lower deep tendon reflexes. He spontaneously says about 20 words. He turns his head when his name is called and can follow a simple command, such as “clap, clap.” He reaches his whole hand toward desired objects and will look at his parents if they are out of reach. He can grasp a block, bang, and transfer objects. He demonstrates an immature pincer grasp. He can roll over and sit independently and is just beginning to pull to a stand. His parents report he has recently restarted Early Intervention, where he is receiving physical, speech, and occupational therapy. His audiology examination is normal.

His parents' primary concern today is regarding feeding. David is a picky eater. He has difficulty with new foods and textures. The parents noticed a regression in his tolerance for new foods around the recent move. He eats baby puffs, stage 2 to 3 baby foods, and fruit and vegetable pouches. He does not like soft, sticky foods. He is also reported to have other sensory sensitivities. He does not tolerate loud noises and is bothered by tags in his clothing. You wonder, what further work-up would be helpful for David? How can his feeding issues be addressed?

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