Sucking Reflex

Original Editor - Muskan Rastogi Top Contributors - Muskan Rastogi

Introduction[edit | edit source]

The sucking reflex is said to be seen in utero by the third month of fetal life so that by the end of gestation it can be put to use.[1]

It is considered an appropriate feeding response in newborns.[2]

The rooting reflex and sucking reflex work together in order to feed the infant.[3]

Incidence and Prevalence[edit | edit source]

In a research conducted by Paulson and Gottlieb, 53% of adult patients showed the presence of a sucking reflex.[4]

In a study conducted by Brown et al, 240 healthy young adults were studied in which they found that 3% of the population had a sucking reflex.[5]

Stimulus[edit | edit source]

Stroking the central part above the upper lip.[6] OR Stimulation of the palate with the help of the nipple during breastfeeding.[3]

Response[edit | edit source]

Pursing the lips [6]around the inserted object ( finger or nipple)

Duration[edit | edit source]

Is seen from 13-16 weeks during gestation and disintegrates by 12 months of age.[7]

In the first video the reflex is stimulated by upper part of lip while in second video it is stimulated by stroking the palate with the help of pacifier. Pursing of lips occurs as a response.

Clinical Relevance[edit | edit source]

  • The presence of sucking pads around the vermillion border of the lips of infants is associated with an effective sucking reflex.[8]
  • The newborn babies of smoking mothers tend to show delayed sucking responses.[9]
  • Sucking and swallowing are present in utero from 13-16 weeks and these mechanisms are considered an important precursor to respiration and deglutition.[7]
  • Breastfeeding commences with the help of both sucking and rooting reflex followed by swallowing reflex.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Smith WL, Erenberg A, Nowak A, Franken Jr EA. Physiology of sucking in the normal term infant using real-time US. Radiology. 1985 Aug;156(2):379-81.
  2. Schott JM, Rossor MN. The grasp and other primitive reflexes. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. 2003 May 1;74(5):558-60.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Woolridge MW. The ‘anatomy’of infant sucking. Midwifery. 1986 Dec 1;2(4):164-71.
  4. Paulson G, Gottileb G. Development reflexes: the reappearance of foetal and neonatal reflexes in aged patients. Brain. 1968 Mar 1;91(1):37-52.
  5. Brown DL, Smith TL, Knepper LE. Evaluation of five primitive reflexes in 240 young adults. Neurology. 1998 Jul 1;51(1):322-.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chandradasa M, Rathnayake L. Retained primitive reflexes in children, clinical implications and targeted home-based interventions. Nursing Children and Young People. 2022 Jan 6;34(1).
  7. 7.0 7.1 Feştilă D, Ghergie M, Muntean A, Matiz D, Şerbânescu A. Suckling and non-nutritive sucking habit: what should we know?. Clujul medical. 2014;87(1):11.
  8. Hendrik HD. Sucking-pads and primitive sucking reflex. Journal of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 2013 Jan 1;6(4):281-3.
  9. Cutajar K. The effects of smoking on pregnancy and breastfeeding.