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August 1937


Author Affiliations

From the Normal Child Development Study of the Department of Diseases of Children, Columbia University, and the Babies' Hospital.

Am J Dis Child. 1937;54(2):240-251. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1937.01980020034003

One of the prominent behavior patterns characteristic of the new-born infant is the Moro reflex, or body-startle response. This activity was first described by Moro,1 in 1918.

Early literature on the subject was concerned primarily with enumerating different stimuli which would elicit the reaction or with the clinical implications of the reaction pattern. Moro's method of stimulation consisted in striking forcefully the table or bed on which the infant was lying in a supine position. Ordinarily the blow was made simultaneously on both sides of the baby, about 6 or 8 inches (15 or 20 cm.) from his head. This method has remained the classic mode of stimulation. However, Schaltenbrand2 and Freudenberg3 pointed out that many other types of stimuli provoke the same pattern of action. Some of the stimuli used are tapping on the abdomen, blowing a gust of air on the face, rapid transfer of

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