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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 191562, 10 pages
Review Article

The Grasp Reflex and Moro Reflex in Infants: Hierarchy of Primitive Reflex Responses

Department of Pediatric Neurology, Osaka Medical Center and Research Institute for Maternal and Child Health, 840 Murodo-cho, Izumi, Osaka 594-1101, Japan

Received 27 October 2011; Accepted 30 March 2012

Academic Editor: Sheffali Gulati

Copyright © 2012 Yasuyuki Futagi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The plantar grasp reflex is of great clinical significance, especially in terms of the detection of spasticity. The palmar grasp reflex also has diagnostic significance. This grasp reflex of the hands and feet is mediated by a spinal reflex mechanism, which appears to be under the regulatory control of nonprimary motor areas through the spinal interneurons. This reflex in human infants can be regarded as a rudiment of phylogenetic function. The absence of the Moro reflex during the neonatal period and early infancy is highly diagnostic, indicating a variety of compromised conditions. The center of the reflex is probably in the lower region of the pons to the medulla. The phylogenetic meaning of the reflex remains unclear. However, the hierarchical interrelation among these primitive reflexes seems to be essential for the arboreal life of monkey newborns, and the possible role of the Moro reflex in these newborns was discussed in relation to the interrelationship.