Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia in Infants and Children

Many infants suffer from gastrosophageal reflux disease (GERD), a fairly common condition that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows backward into the food pipe.

For years, doctors have prescribed metoclopramide, available as Reglan in the U.S., for the treatment of GERD. Additionally, infants in hospital neonatal intensive care units who often have problem with gut motility (moving food from the stomach to the intestines) have been prescribed metoclopramide, with some beginning treatment within a week of birth. Small children with similar gastrointestinal problems have also been prescribed treatment with metoclopramide for these concerns.

Unfortunately because the brains of infants and children are still developing, it is unclear how this drug, which is linked to the development of tardive dyskinesia, will affect children, especially with extended use.

Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia

Parents whose infants or children were treated with Reglan, another metoclopramide medication, or certain neuroleptic drugs should be aware of these potential symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, including:

  • Involuntary movements of the jaw
  • Constant tongue movement, including sticking out the tongue
  • Foot tapping or leg stomping
  • Blinking
  • Puckering and/or lip smacking and licking
  • Grimacing
  • Rapid arm or leg movements

Any indication of these involuntary, repetitive movements should be reported to a doctor immediately and treatment with a drug that could be causing the condition should be stopped. Unfortunately, symptoms of tardive dyskinesia may persist even after use of the medication is discontinued.  

Certain neuroleptic drugs have been prescribed for children with a number of behavioral and mental disorders including ADHD, autism, schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome. Like metoclopramide, these drugs can sometimes result in the development of tardive dyskinesia, and because the systems connected to dopamine receptors in children are still developing, the condition can be irreversible and can cause additional mental and behavioral problems.


  1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gerd/ds00967

  2. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tardive/tardive.htm