LivingMoro or startle reflex in the newborn baby

Moro or startle reflex in the newborn baby

Newborn babies have various reflexes or involuntary movements that are a sign of a normal state of health. The Moro or baby startle reflex is a reflex present in newborn babies and owes its name to the Austrian pediatrician Ernst Moro, who first described it.

This reflex is usually detected in the first examination of the baby and then in the following consultations it is confirmed that it is still present, up to three or four months , when it usually disappears.

The Moro reflex consists of the baby extending his arms and quickly opening his hands with the palms up and spreading the fingers with the thumbs flexed at the moment in which he feels lack of support (it can happen in the event of a sudden change in position) .

The baby is startled (hence the name by which this reflex is also known), tenses his shoulders and back and opens his eyes as if frightened, he may even burst into tears. As the reflex ends, the baby draws his arms back toward the body, elbows flexed, and finally the baby relaxes.

We can observe the Moro reflex by placing the baby on his back on a soft, padded surface. Gently lift from the arms or body to begin to remove the body weight from the cushion, without separating it from the cushion.

If the baby is released suddenly (I repeat, he is not separated from the cushion), he feels the lack of support and starts reacting with the Moro reflex.

The absence of the Moor’s reflex in a baby is abnormal and suggests damage to the brain or spinal cord, or if it is on one side only, there is the possibility of a fractured clavicle or damage to the group of nerves of the brachial plexus.

On the other hand, the persistence of the Moro reflex beyond the fourth or fifth month of age can also indicate severe neurological defects, which is why its existence continues to be verified in the pediatrician’s consultations.

In short, the Moro or startle reflex in the baby is one of those primary movements that denote normal development in the newborn and that will usually disappear within a few months.

Photo | Thinkstock
In Babies and more | The first examination of the newborn: the reflexes, The first tests and routine procedures that will be done to your newborn baby

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