Yes, you can be born with hypermobility, especially if your parents or grandparents have EDS or similar genetic disorders.
Children with hypermobility have joints that flex more than they should, frequently have some muscular weakness that leads to a diagnosis of low muscle tone, and are often reserved in their demeanor.
Infants and toddlers with joint hypermobility may exhibit the following characteristics:
- Instead of crawling, they use the bottom shuffle technique.
- Delayed sitting development with a rounded back or a W-sit.
- Have tight hip muscles that make it difficult to walk, crawl, and maintain balance.
- Hate tummy time
- As they get older, they may experience difficulties with coordination and attentiveness.
- Exercise caution when participating in new or complex activities that may cause sensory difficulties.
What is the definition of joint hypermobility?
Babies with joint hypermobility have joints that can bend further than average, as well as a trunk and limbs that seem floppy and weak compared to their peers.
Due to the connective tissue variations that comprise the joint capsule and ligaments, the enhanced range of movement at the joints (sometimes referred to as joint laxity or double-jointed) is possible.
The joint capsule and ligaments are responsible for holding the bones that make up the joint together. Connective tissue, which is both strong and flexible, is responsible for forming the joint capsule and ligaments. Connective tissue can be stretched just a tiny amount, just enough to allow the joint to move through its normal complete range of motion without restriction.
Joint hypermobility is characterized by the presence of a more significant give in the connective tissue, which allows it to be stretched further than usual. Therefore, joints are less tightly bound together and can be moved further than they would typically be able to.
In addition to the connective tissue, the muscles may seem floppy and weak due to the increased flexibility in the connective tissue. Because of this, the newborn’s movement and development are affected, which may result in the infant being behind schedule in reaching the critical developmental milestones.
Low muscle tone and hypermobility of the joints
Infants with low muscle tone, who seem floppy and have hypermobile joints, are frequently diagnosed with low muscle tone. Muscle tone is a word that relates to the muscles’ readiness to perform an activity. The stretch receptors muscles sensitivity is responsible for this state of preparation for action. If the muscles’ sensitivity to stretch is inferior, they are slow to respond and seem weak and floppy as a result.
It is exceedingly malleable in newborns with joint hypermobility because the connective tissue that binds the muscles together and connects the muscles to the bones through the tendons has become highly pliable. This affects the muscle’s ability to respond quickly.
In the vast majority of cases, poor muscle tone is associated with joint hypermobility. However, if a newborn is floppy and looks to be weak, it is crucial to get a complete evaluation by a doctor to rule out any other possible reasons.
Multiple developmental pathways for hypermobility in infants
Baby’s position at the time of birth
Fully developed full-term newborns are often delivered lying down with their arms and legs flexed. In reality, the muscles in the hips and knees are stiff and cannot be fully stretched out as needed.
Small amounts of tightness (stiffness) in the hip and knee muscles assist the newborn child in lifting the arms and legs up when kicking and reaching.
Newborn hypermobile (and preterm) newborns are more likely to be seen lying with their legs and arms more stretched and flat on the crib mattress than other babies. The customary stiffness in the hip and knee muscles is gone, and the hips and knees may be stretched to their maximum range of motion.
Because of the laxity in the muscles, it takes more effort to lift the arms to reach for toys and kick the legs than usual.
Levels of activity
- Typically, young newborns are pretty active during their development.
Within a few weeks, active newborns have learned to hold their trunks firm while they kick, bring their legs up, and reach for objects in their environment. They also begin to press their feet into the ground and elevate their buttocks off the ground. All of this movement helps to strengthen the muscles and prepares them for sitting down.
Babies that are hypermobile, have poor tone, or are preterm may be less active and fail to acquire adequate muscular strength.
It is possible that if the newborn is hypermobile and also cautious, she will not kick aggressively and will therefore fail to build the muscular strength necessary to support the hypermobile joints and prepare them for rolling and sitting.
- Hip stiffness impairs the capacity of the infant to get up onto their knees
The infant’s ability to move up into a kneeling position or onto all fours is hampered by the rigidity in the hip muscles. When they are on their tummies, their legs are held wide apart, making it difficult to move up onto their hands and knees in preparation for crawling, as shown in the video.
- Infants that are hypermobile tend to lock their elbows
When hypermobile newborns lift up on their arms, their elbows lock into hyperextension, causing them to become immobile. As a result, they do not acquire the arm strength that is required for going up on all fours and crawling correctly.
- Infants that are hypermobile (have low tone) frequently bottom shuffle and skip the crawling stage
Infants that are hypermobile or have poor tone may not be able to crawl at all. Instead, they may choose to scoot about on their bottoms to move around.
- Standing, cruising, and walking may all be affected
Hypermobile newborns stand with their legs locked back in hyperextension as if they were on their backs. Alternatively, they might start by standing with their feet wide apart and turned outwards. It isn’t easy to shift the weight onto one foot in order to take a step as a result of this.
If their knee and hip muscles are weak, kids may have difficulties bending down to pick up things from the floor and will take longer to sit down with excellent control while bending down. Walking is frequently postponed.
Infants that are hypermobile or have low tone tend to walk a few months later than the average, sometimes as late as 18-20 months.
The majority of hypermobile newborns eventually learn to walk on their own, barring the presence of another condition in addition to hypermobility. As a general rule, if an infant is not walking by the age of 20 months, there are grounds for concern, and physiotherapy intervention may be required.
Once they are up on their feet, hypermobile newborns are prone to tripping and falling, even after several months of walking experience. This is caused by a lack of strength in the leg muscles rather than a lack of balance and coordination. A small step, stepping over an obstacle, and walking on soft and uneven surfaces may cause them a great deal of discomfort.