The floppy infant: contribution of genetic and metabolic disorders

Brain Dev. 2003 Oct;25(7):457-76. doi: 10.1016/s0387-7604(03)00066-4.


The floppy infant syndrome is a well-recognized entity for pediatricians and neonatologists. The condition refers to an infant with generalized hypotonia presenting at birth or in early life. The diagnostic work up in many instances is often complex, and requires multidisciplinary assessment. Advances in genetics and neurosciences have lead to recognition of newer diagnostic entities (several congenital myopathies), and rapid molecular diagnosis is now possible for several conditions such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), congenital muscular dystrophies (CMD), several forms of congenital myopathies and congenital myotonic dystrophy. The focus of the present review is to describe the advances in our understanding in the genetic, metabolic basis of neurological disorders, as well as the investigative work up of the floppy infant. An algorithm for the systematic evaluation of infants with hypotonia is suggested for the practicing pediatrician/neonatologist.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Muscle Hypotonia / diagnosis*
  • Muscle Hypotonia / genetics*
  • Muscle Hypotonia / metabolism
  • Muscle Hypotonia / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / diagnosis
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Diseases / genetics
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / diagnosis
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis