Babies show all sorts of individual behaviors. It is only natural to worry if you notice something unusual or unique, especially when you are a new parent. While it is expected that your baby’s legs shake when they are crying, it might point toward a bigger problem.
In newborns, shaking in the legs and arms when crying is natural. It should end after 1 to 2 months. Newborns and babies are startled easily. They spread their arms and legs wide before bringing them together. This is a common response known as the startle reflex or Moro reflex. If you see your baby shaking or twitching not while crying, this might be a sign something is wrong. Give them anything to suck on to calm their nerves.
While seizures are rare, they’re still possible. Newborns aren’t just anxious during seizures. They flex their muscles and blink their eyelids. Babies may also create sucking movements with their mouths. Babies do not cry during seizures. The channels that retrieve information from the brain to the sections of the body aren’t fully matured in infants, resulting in jerky and twitching motions. These motions will become smoother as the infant’s nervous system develops.
Babies are very complex and fragile. Their every movement can show how they are growing and whether there is a problem. However, it is completely normal for them to have involuntary movements and certain newborn reflexes; sometimes, the babies shaking points toward a more serious issue.
When Is Baby Leg Shaking Abnormal?
Noticing a newborn leg shaking is usually considered normal, and most outgrow it with time. That doesn’t mean that infants don’t have seizures; it’s just important to understand when to be worried. While there are several explanations for your baby’s limbs or other body parts shaking, some are natural for certain growing newborns, such as an underdeveloped nervous system or a small amount of caffeine in a mother’s breast milk. If your baby’s legs are shaking but the baby is not cold or crying, that is when you should be worried about it possibly being a seizure.
What Is Infant Shudder Syndrome?
You could be keeping an eye out for your baby’s symptoms and behaviors following a complicated pregnancy. One such syndrome causes the newborn to shiver rapidly in the head, neck, arms, and chest area. This is referred to as infant shudder syndrome.
Trembling attacks are uncontrollable motions of the neck and upper limbs that happen during everyday activities but don’t affect consciousness. Adequate neurologic test results and electroencephalogram tracing should indicate that this youngster suffers from shuddering attacks, a harmless condition that needs no further research or medical treatment. The reason for the illness is unknown; however, it is separate from epilepsy and does not necessitate or react to antiepileptic medicines.
Several doctors find it difficult to pinpoint the cause of infant shudder syndrome. Many experts feel that trembling is not an indication of a dangerous disease but rather a typical reaction some newborns have. But even so, trembling and shivering can indicate a sickness or brain abnormality in a baby who also has other medical issues. Parents who see their infants trembling should record the episodes and present them to their doctors.
Cerebral palsy induced by a prenatal injury could explain why a newborn appears to shiver or shake. When a kid is harmed either during or shortly following birth, oxygen deprivation may occur.
If your baby is suspected of having cerebral palsy, you should get them evaluated by a doctor. After experiencing a shuddering episode, your physician may refer your baby to a neurologist. A neurological test may reveal that your kid has no serious health issues that require treatment. In many of these circumstances, newborns will no longer experience baby shudder syndrome signs within several months or sometimes years.
What Causes Seizures?
If you suspect your kid is suffering seizures that cause shuddering or shivering, you should call your doctor immediately. Seizures can happen due to different causes, which would include:
- Extreme fever
- Injuries to the head
- Brain damage
- Neurodevelopmental problems
If the baby was birthed from a high-risk pregnancy, he or she might have suffered skull or brain damage. Following birth, medical professionals might have dropped the baby, causing harm. A doctor may have used birthing equipment inappropriately, such as forceps, resulting in a brain injury and seizures.
What Are The Signs Of Seizures In Infants?
A baby seizure happens when there is an aberrant additional burst of electrical impulses among neurons or brain tissue in the infant’s brain. These can occur for a variety of reasons. The symptoms that a newborn presents are determined by the sort of seizure that they are having.
These convulsions are particularly prevalent during the infant period. These symptoms, however, may mimic normal motions and can be difficult to detect. Subtle seizures can cause the following:
- Squinting, blinking, and glaring.
- Uncontrollable eye motions.
- Tongue sticking out.
- Cycling in the legs.
- Extended delays between breaths.
The term tonic refers to muscular rigidity. Whenever a baby has a tonic seizure, he or she may:
- Stiffen every body part.
- Bend their arms and legs and hold them in uncomfortable postures.
- Tilt their head on one side and keep it there.
- Move their eyes towards one side of their head and keep them there.
Clonic implies quivering or jerking; therefore, a newborn experiencing a clonic seizure may have repetitive, uncontrollable jerking muscular movements.
A parent or another caregiver may see the baby gripping or twitching areas of its limbs throughout this seizure, such as:
This is a form of seizure that begins with stiffness (tonic phase) and continues with shaking (clonic phase). As a result, a child may experience tonic seizure signs followed by clonic seizure signs.
Is It Normal For Newborns To Have Seizures?
Spasms are the most prevalent neurological problem in a baby’s first four weeks of life. Seizures occur in 1-5 out of every 1,000 newborns. Some seizures only last a few minutes and occur just once, causing no long-term harm.
A baby who has frequent seizures has to be treated to avoid permanent brain damage. This frequent disturbance of cerebral oxygen levels and the high brain cell stimulation causes brain injury.
Normal Tremors vs Seizures
Tremors are perfectly normal in babies, but one must know when the issue is serious. There are several reasons why your child could be having normal tremors.
Fine Motor Skills
At various phases of development, different parts of the body jitter. Shaking movements of the head or extremities, for example, prepare babies to keep their heads up during the newborn period (the first 28 days of life), but quivering of the wrists or fingers in older kids could be an aspect of the growth of the fine motor function.
Immature Nervous System
The channels that transport information from the nervous system to the different parts of the body aren’t fully mature in newborns, resulting in abrupt and twitching motions. This immature nervous system will get more dynamic as the child grows and develops.
Caffeine Found in Breast Milk
If you’re nursing and consume a large number of caffeinated beverages, the baby may quiver or jitter. Even though a small dose of caffeine (up to 300mg, or around 2 to 3 mugs of coffee) is not harmful, high quantities can be passed to the baby and accumulate in the body.
Going to Sleep or Getting Up
Unstable and jerky motions are also common when little babies are sleeping or have to wake up. The condition you’re witnessing is most likely a harmless ailment known as benign neonatal sleep myoclonus, sometimes referred to as nocturnal myoclonus, and it normally occurs just before falling asleep. These motions can also be caused by external stimulation, such as sound, movements, or light.
Seizure Symptoms in Newborns
Seizures in infants are not the same as seizures in adults and older children. In principle, the following may suggest that your newborn is having a seizure:
- Gestures and actions unusual for a baby of that age.
- Recurrent episodes with the same attributes and length.
- Other symptoms that are not triggered by adjustments in position or movement.
- A discernible shift in the infant’s respiration, heart rate, and facial expression.
- Periodic movements that occur just on one side of the body or are symmetrical.
- Shivering or muscle jerking that can’t be stopped. For example, if a child’s arm is twitching and you can calm them by softly gripping their arm, it is unlikely to be a seizure; in a seizure, the jerks would remain even when you cradled their arm.
What Are Infantile Spasms?
Infantile spasms, also known as West Syndrome, are a form of seizure commonly occurring in infants. Spasms appear as an abrupt tightening of muscles, with the baby’s arms, feet, or head bending forward. Cases occur in a series of brief spasms lasting one or two seconds. Babies might experience up to 100 spasms every day. Spasms are more likely to occur when the baby first awakens.
Infantile spasms are most common between the ages of 4 and 7 months; however, they can happen at any moment throughout the initial few months or even years of life. Later spasms are uncommon. To prevent infantile spasms, specific medicine is required. Infantile spasms expose kids to the risk of developing complicated epilepsy, intellectual impairment, and autism.
Early and successful therapy is critical in alleviating these infants’ diagnoses since early respondents have improved epilepsy or developmental results.
How Do Infantile Spasms Vary From the Startle Reflex?
Infantile spasms may appear to be the same as a typical startle reaction in newborns, but they are not.
The startle reflex, better known as the Moro reflex, occurs when your newborn baby is startled by a very loud noise or an abrupt movement. They often fling their heads back and stretch their legs and arms with palms up. They may also wail and frequently draw their legs and arms inward.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has Infantile Spams? Symptoms
The baby’s body may stiffen or tighten up quickly but only for a few seconds when in an infantile spasm. In addition, they could have an arched back and a forward-bent head, body, and/or arms. Infantile spasms frequently occur in groups, with five- to ten-second intervals between spasms.
Your kid may look disturbed or scream after one spasm and perhaps after a series of spasms, although this is not always the case. Infantile spasms can be mild and hard to spot in some situations. The following are subtle indicators of an infantile spasm:
- Rolling of the eyes
- Tension in the stomach
- Movements of the chin
- Nodding of the head
You’ll probably notice additional changes in the baby soon following spasms, such as:
- Loss of previously attained developmental stages like turning over, sitting, crawling, or talking.
- Reduced social connections and less smiling.
- Heightened fussiness or silence.
- Leg shaking when standing.
How Long Do Infantile Spasms Last?
In 90% of cases, doctors identify infantile spasms in newborns under the age of one year. The usual diagnosis ranges from four to seven months of age. A single spasm lasts for a few seconds but could be recurring.
Take Care of Yourself, Too, and Take No Risks
As important as it is for you to take care of your children, ensure that you take care of yourself too during and after pregnancy. Many times, the seizures or tremors are not a birth defect or an injury but due to your habits, which harm the child. When you notice your baby shaking uncontrollably, contact your doctor immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to a baby who is still going through a developmental phase.