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Retained Neonatal Reflexes

Icon for Retained Neonatal Reflexes Retained Neonatal Reflexes

Have you ever noticed how a baby will hold onto your finger if you place it in the baby’s palm? Or how a baby will turn its head and search for breast milk when its cheek is touched? These are automatic, unconscious movements called primitive reflexes, which are present at birth to help ensure the babies survival. They serve as building blocks for more complex movements, and should fade, or ‘integrate’ within the first year of life, as the baby develops a higher level of neurological function. In the early stages, the presence and integration of these reflexes are what facilitate your baby’s ability to roll over, sit up, crawl and walk.

Reflexes that persist beyond the first year of life are known as retained reflexes, and may indicate a maturational functional delay in the brain. When these building blocks do not integrate, more advanced areas of the brain may also be delayed in development, or not develop at all. Each primitive reflex is linked to different areas of the brain, which are responsible for different functions, so the presentation will vary for each individual. Retained reflexes can be experienced on a spectrum, ranging from things as simple as poor hand eye coordination and struggling to catch a ball, to more severe neurological and neuro-developmental dysfunction.

Fear Paralysis Reflex

Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex (TLR)

Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR)

Moro Reflex

Spinal Galant Reflex

Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR)

Plantar (Babinski) Reflex

Palmar (Grasp) Reflex

Rooting Reflex

Written by:

Dr. Christie Callender, Chiropractor at Beyond Self, Dee Why

Dr. David Reading, Chiropractor at Beyond Self, Dee Why

Dr. Maddy Szalay, Chiropractor at Beyond Self, Dee Why

Dr. Shannon Egan, Chiropractor at Beyond Self, Dee Why


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