Infant Dystonia Disorder

What is Infant Dystonia Disorder?

Dystonia disorder is a disorder that appears to affect the muscles. Dystonia disorder appears to affect the muscles because it causes writhing, slow, involuntary movements or postures taken by the muscles. In fact, the disorder is caused due to miscommunication between the brain and the nerves, making it a neurological disorder instead of a muscular disorder.

How is Infant Dystonia Disorder Caused in Newborns?

Infant dystonia is a disorder caused by genetics or via a birth injury that leads to by hypoxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain causing low levels of oxygen and thus inflicting brain damage), or neonatal brain hemorrhage.

Dystonia caused by birth injuries is referred to as acquired dystonia.  Other causes of acquired dystonia for infants could be infections, an adverse reaction to certain drugs, and lead or carbon monoxide poisoning (though rare).

How is Cerebral Palsy Different?

Cerebral palsy is similar to dystonia as it can be caused from hypoxia or neonatal brain hemorrhage. The symptoms of the two disorders are also similar as they involve slow, writhing movements, paralysis, and abnormal or repetitious muscle movement.

Cerebral palsy, however, is a disability that starts in the brain and affects the whole body’s movement, and in some cases, causes cognitive disabilities. Generally patients with dystonia disorder have a muscular disorcer, but rarely are cognitive disabilities associated with it.

What are the Symptoms of Infant Dystonia?

In addition to uncontrolled muscle movement, other symptoms of dystonia  include dragging a leg, cramping in the foot, involuntary pulling in the neck, and uncontrollable blinking.

Symptoms generally affect only one side of the body, and usually stabilize within five years. However, accidents and injuries can worsen the symptoms.

How is Infant Dystonia Diagnosed?

Since infant dystonia is a neurological disorder, one of the most common ways of diagnosing the disorder is through neurological testing. Sometimes it’s identified with a head CT scan or an MRI, and sometimes it’s diagnosed with an Electroencephalogram (EEG).

How is Dystonia Treated?

There is no cure for dystonia. However, there are several physicians and therapists associated with the Dystonia Foundation who work together to offer a few different kinds of treatment plans.

Treatment options many include non-drug therapies, oral medications, injected medications, surgery, and complementary therapies. Often, therapy matches the severity of the dystonia and the abilities of the patient. Obviously if the patient is an infant, physical therapy might be more difficult than, say, injected medication.