Foot and Palm Reflex

A reflex is particularly muscle reflex is a reaction of the muscles as physical stimuli is applied for that muscle to contract. Muscle reflexes tell more about the neural development as well as can be a tool in knowing the defect of the nervous system. For infants, foot and palm reflexes are very important since it signals whether the development of the child is within normal range. Absence of such reflexes may point out the area of the brain or spinal cord that is defective.

Reflexes are produced by a contraction. This process can be seen in the reflex arc. The reflex arc involves the afferent neuron – an area wherein the external stimuli is initially felt; central processing unit and efferent neuron that is responsible for the muscle contraction.

These are the basic reflexes:

1. Moro reflex – Paediatrician Ernst Moro have discovered this startling reflex of infants. This is present at birth until two (2) months only. This startling response can be elicited by a sudden noise, shift of head movement of the baby or even changes in the temperature. Moro reflex is seen when the baby suddenly raises his arms as well as his feet after such time, his hands will clench into fists. Sometimes, after the more reflex, the baby awakens.

2. Rooting Reflex – This is essential in breastfeeding infants. Normally, an infant turns his head to the side wherein his cheek was stroked. In breastfeeding, it is important to teach mothers to elicit this reflex to be able to give proper breastfeeding. This is a reflex that signals a searching mode from the baby.

3. Stepping Reflex – This reflex is present at birth and disappears by four (4) months. Infants cannot walk or support their wait; this “walking” phenomenon is well observed when the soles of the infant come in contact with a flat surface.

4. Palmar and plantar reflex – Infants have the tendency to turn or touch any physical stimuli applied to them. As a response, they might even want to come in contact with it instantly; this is also true with palmar and plantar reflexes. Once an object is placed near the infant’s palm or feet, his or her fingers or toes will then grasp that object.

5. Sucking Reflex – Infant’s has the tendency to suck anything that is placed on their mouth. For instance, if you place your little finger on the infant’s mouth, he will instinctively suck it. This is very important for effective feeding the baby. Once the baby has absent sucking reflex, it is difficult to feed him and may even be prone to aspiration.

Newborn Reflexes

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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