It is only natural that parents pay attention to the minutest detail of an infant’s life. They wait for every milestone with great excitement. Some kids are slow, but if other symptoms accompany the delay, it becomes a cause for concern. Therefore, in most cases, this excitement is also responsible for identifying abnormal symptoms, mostly which are related to age-appropriate motor movements.
Parents should observe and watch for the following early warning signs:
- Lack of age-appropriate motor movement – Given below are the age-appropriate motor skills that every normal child will achieve.
- Head control – Head would wobble up to four months and be upright by six months.
- Sitting – The child should be able to sit with support to the hips at four months, with props at six months, and should be able to sit on its own by eight months.
- Rolling – The child should be able to roll to a side by four months and change from prone (lying face down) to supine (lying face up) and supine to prone in six months.
- Grasping – The child should hold things using its whole hand or grasp using the index finger and thumb from birth and use both hands by three to four months.
- Crawling – The child should be able to crawl on its elbow at three months, with outstretched hands by four months, on its abdomen by eight months, crawl on fours by about 10 months.
- Standing – A child should support its weight by four months, with support by seven months, and unaided by the age of one year.
- Walking – While bouncing starts at about six months, the child can begin walking, holding someone by one year, and should be able to walk independently without support by 15 months.
If a child cannot reach one, a couple, or any of the milestones mentioned above, it is a warning sign and needs medical intervention.
- Muscle weakness and muscle wasting
There are specific nerves that control the muscle movement called motor neurons. With the onset of SMA, the nerves cannot send the signals to the muscles to expand and contract. The lack of communication causes the muscles to waste away and become weak.
- Tongue fasciculation
Spontaneous and subtle contractions of the tongue’s muscle fibers that are fast, intermittent, and visible are called tongue fasciculations. It could be caused by other nerve-related disorders and is also a sign of SMA.
- Fine tremor
Tremors in the extremities’ muscles – that is, hands and legs, are warning signals in infants. Tremors are more visible in outstretched hands, along with cramps under the skin.
- Joint and muscle contractures
When the joints and muscles are shortened, it is called contracture and leads to deformity. When you see changes in an infant’s joints and muscles, it could be a symptom of spinal muscle atrophy.
- Lack of control of the head
When the infant cannot control the neck muscles, their head will not be upright and keep falling backward, forwards, and sides. Do not wait if the child cannot control his head and take doctors’ advice ASAP.
Poor muscle tone is medically referred to as hypotonia. Babies with hypotonia won’t be able to perform strong or definite arm movements. They will feel limp when you lift them. They will be unable to lift their head if they have rolled over and are lying down on their tummy.