Parents know best: Ask about baby’s physical delays
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
Many parents keep track of their baby’s first moves, like rolling over, sitting, standing
and walking. Early achievers delight their parents. But what if your baby seems to
be taking her time to get moving?
“Some kids develop a little more slowly than other kids, and that is OK. But it could
be a sign that they have a medical problem,” said Garey H. Noritz, M.D., FAAP, an
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) member who cares for children with disabilities.
Motor delays that are most common include cerebral palsy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy
and spinal muscular atrophy. Some babies have very stiff muscles or very weak muscles.
Babies can seem floppy, or they might make jerking movements.
“Most of these disorders aren’t going to be detected either in prenatal testing or
on the newborn screen,” said Dr. Noritz. “Even kids that have a normal birth history
might have a motor problem.”
Parents should not wait to talk to the pediatrician. “Trust your instincts as a parent.
Bring it to the doctor’s attention when there’s something that doesn’t seem right,”
Dr. Noritz said.
The child will be examined by a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist or other
specialist. A child doesn’t need a diagnosis to receive therapy and early intervention
services, Dr. Noritz said. “Both of these things should happen at the same time,”
Getting help early makes a big difference for children with spinal muscular atrophy.
There is a medication that works best the earlier the child starts taking it, Dr.
The AAP has an online checklist at http://motordelay.aap.org for parents who are concerned about their child’s physical development. They can
fill out and print the checklist to show their pediatrician.
Parents also can download the free Milestone Tracker app (for Android or Apple) from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html. Parents can join support groups for more resources, information and to meet other
families going through similar situations.
“Trust yourself. Trust your doctor,” Dr. Noritz said. “If you’re worried about it,
then we want to know about it.”