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The Moro Reflex

The Moro reflex is the baby's first reaction to any sudden change - the first fight or flight response.  It is the only primitive reflex which is connected in some way to all of the senses and is crucial to survivial.  It should be inhibited by around four months being replaced by a mature ‘startle’ reflex. Should it fail to be inhibited then it can have significant impact on all aspects of functioning.  If it remains in an older child, it can be associated with


- Hypersensitivity

- Heightened awareness of (and reaction to) perceived risk

- Poor impulse control

- Stimulus bound effect (the child cannot ignore peripheral stimuli to focus attention on one thing, it has to pay attention to everything) which in turn can lead to sensory overload and anxiety, especially anticipation anxiety

- Mood swings

- Social and emotional immaturity


Other associated long term effects can be


- Balance problems such as travel sickness and poor coordination

- Photosensitivity, problems with black text on white

- Poor auditory discrimination due to hypersensitivity to certain sounds

- Allergies and lowered immunity

- Poor stamina

- Reactive hypoglycaemia

- Dislikes change

- Continuous anxiety 

- Tense muscle tone

- Cycle of hyperactivity followed by exhaustion

- Difficulty making decsions

- Low self esteem 



from "Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour: A Window into the Child's Mind"  by Sally Goddard (2005) Fern Ridge Press, Eugene

The Moro reflex affects all aspects of functioning
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