Motor Development in Children with Prader-Willi Syndrome

Motor Development

Children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have developmental, postural, and movement disabilities from birth through adulthood.


  • Hypotonia may be present before birth, resulting in decreased fetal movements, abnormal fetal position at delivery, and an increased incidence of assisted delivery or cesarean section.
  • Neonatal hypotonia is a nearly universal finding. Hypotonia is of central origin. Hypotonia may result in decreased movement and lethargy, decreased spontaneous arousals, weak cry, and poor reflexes, including a poor suck. Special feeding and arousal techniques may be necessary, including nasogastrointestinal feeding - see all Nutrition Assessment Services services providers (2) in our database.

Infants and toddlers:

Preschool and childhood:

  • Overeating and obesity become a problem in the preschool years.
  • Low muscle tone often improves.
  • Children with PWS continue to have problems with strength, coordination, balance, and motor planning, and they have delays in activities such as jumping, climbing, and catching.
  • Fine motor skills are also delayed, with difficulties in activities such as drawing and writing.
  • Learning and behavior problems are often compounded by motor problems.
  • Interventions with growth hormone therapy and rehabilitation techniques such as orthotics and therapies help maximize function - see all Physical Therapy services providers (30) in our database.

Adolescence and adulthood:


Information & Support

For Professionals

Genetics in Primary Care Institute (AAP)
The goal of this site is to increase collaboration in the care of children with known or suspected genetic disorders. It includes health supervision guidelines and other useful resources; represents a collaboration among the Health Resources & Services Administration, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Disability Related Sports

See all Disability Related Sports services providers (5) in our database.

Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities/Delays

See all Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities/Delays services providers (21) in our database.

Nutrition Assessment Services

See all Nutrition Assessment Services services providers (2) in our database.

Pediatric Orthopedics

See all Pediatric Orthopedics services providers (11) in our database.

Physical Therapy

See all Physical Therapy services providers (30) in our database.

For other services related to this condition, browse our Services categories or search our database.


Author: Mary Riske, RN, MS - 9/2008
Reviewing Authors: Merlin G. Butler, MD, Ph.D. - 11/2014
Kyna Byerly, MS, CGC - 8/2008
Content Last Updated: 11/2014


This page was developed in partnership with the Heartland Genetic Services Collaborative and was funded in part by a Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) cooperative agreement (U22MC03962). We appreciate the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) for their outstanding support of individuals with PWS and their families and for the information they provide on their website – – to which we have provided several links within the Diagnosis Module.

Page Bibliography

Kroonen LT, Herman M, Pizzutillo PD, Macewen GD.
Prader-Willi Syndrome: clinical concerns for the orthopaedic surgeon.
J Pediatr Orthop. 2006;26(5):673-9. PubMed abstract
Cites osteopenia, poor impulse control and defiant behaviors, and diminished pain sensitivity as aspects of PWS that may complicate all facets of orthopaedic nonsurgical and surgical management in this patient population.