Babkin Reflex

Original Editor - Fahad Bin Aftab

Top Contributors - Fahad Bin Aftab  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In the year 1953, Babkin observed a peculiar reflex connecting the hands and mouth areas in newborn infants, first called the hand–mouth reflex in the Russian literature. Later in the year 1958, Lippmann named the reflex Babkin'schen reflex in his German article, while Lesný designated it as the Palmo-mandibular sign in 1960. Studies about bibkin reflex are quite few, especially in the English literature. Therefore, pediatricians in general are not as familiar with the reflex as other well-known primitive reflexes such as the Moro and grasp reflexes.

Bibkin's Reflex[edit | edit source]

The Babkin Reflex starts around 9 weeks before birth, stays active for the first 3 months after birth, and typically integrates around 4 months. Breastfeeding is made easier by this reflex because it stimulates the breast to increase milk flow. Reticular formation of the brainstem mediates and control the Babkin reflex.

It's interesting to note that the pattern of the Plantar Reflex in the feet is quite similar to the Babkin Reflex in mammals when they use their paws to stimulate the breast.

There is evidence that infants, when do suckling, do not only move their hands involuntarily, but also their toes and feet during this process. The majority of children with an active Babkin Reflex involuntarily move their mouths and tongues in response to fine motor tasks like writing, drawing a picture or playing an instrument, while there is an active Babkin Reflex present.

According to Harald Blomberg in 2012, the Babkin Reflex could influence the movements of the sphenoid and temporal bones. This, in turn, can have a direct impact on speech,

The predominant response in the reflex is opening of the mouth, which is often associated with flexion of the forearms and head and closing of the eyes. If the subject's head faces laterally in the starting position, it may turn to midline[1]

Pattern of movement[edit | edit source]

To check for the Babkin reflex, a healthcare or person should do following.

  • provider gently presses their thumbs on both palms of a baby lying on spine lying. It works best when there's firm pressure; just touching or causing pain doesn't trigger the reflex.
  • When activated, you'll notice the baby opening their mouth, and often, their forearms and head will flex,
  • Baby will close eyes.
  • If the baby's is in the side lying position, this reflex might cause it to turn back to the middle.

Complication if Reflex is not integrated[edit | edit source]

Feeding Challenges[edit | edit source]
  • The Babkin reflex is important for breastfeeding as it helps stimulate the breast for milk flow. Lactation and sucking may be difficult for a baby if this reflex isn't properly integrated
Difficulties with Fine Motor Skills[edit | edit source]
  • Incomplete integration of the Babkin reflex can impact fine motor skills. Tasks like writing, using scissors, or playing instruments might be challenging due to involuntary movements of the mouth and tongue.
Speech and Articulation Issues:[edit | edit source]
  • Speech and articulation could be affected by the Babkin reflex if it is not integrated. As a result, it may be difficult to express oneself clearly.
Coordination and Motor Planning:[edit | edit source]
  • Reflexes, including the Babkin reflex, are crucial for coordinating movements. If not integrated well, it could impact a child's ability to plan and execute movements effectively.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Futagi Y, Yanagihara K, Mogami Y, Ikeda T, Suzuki Y. The Babkin reflex in infants: clinical significance and neural mechanism. Pediatric neurology. 2013 Sep 1;49(3):149-55.