Moro Reflex


  • Change in head position
  • Loud noise
  • Sudden change of light in visual field
  • Pain, temperature change, rough handling by caretaker

 Response to Triggers

  • Sharp inhalation
  • Movement of the arms upward, away from body, hands open, then return of arms across the body, clasping hands
  • Stress response: release of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), increase in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate
  • Possible emotional outburst
  • An involuntary response to a threat.
  • The reflex is present at 9 – 12 weeks in utero, is present at birth, and is integrated at 2 – 4 months.
  • A survival mechanism, it is the earliest form of the “flight or fight” response.

This reflex is elicited by sudden changes in position, by sudden noise or light. The child with a retained Moro is always “on alert” and in a heightened state of awareness, which stimulates the production of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. He can:

  1. Isolate himself, be fearful, have issues with showing affection and with socializing.


  1. Will be easily excitable, aggressive and have difficulties reading body language.

Because adrenaline and cortisol are involved with immunity and allergies, the child with a retained Moro could always be sick, and have allergies and sensitivities to foods and food additives and possibly burn sugar more easily than typical children.

Symptoms of a Retained Moro Reflex

  • Problems with Vestibular System

  • Motion Sickness

  • Poor coordination

  • Poor balance

  • Heightened awareness, in a “fight or flight” state

  • Tense muscle tone

  • Exaggerated startle reaction

  • Anxiety

  • Either excessive withdrawal from others or excessive aggression toward others

  • Timid

  • Dislike of changes or surprises

  • Poor learning skills

  • Low self-esteem

  • Emotional instability and sensitivity

  • Hyperactivity

  • Mood swings

  • Problems with vision

  • Eye movement and visual perception problems

  • Difficulty ignoring irrelevant material in the visual field

  • Difficulty with black print on white background

  • Light sensitivity

  • Tires easily under fluorescent lights

  • Hypersensitivity to auditory or visual stimuli

  • Poor auditory discrimination, difficulty ignoring background noise

  • Excessive release of stress hormones

  • Weak adrenals leading to allergies, frequent infections and low energy

  • Conditions related to low immunity, asthma, eczema, frequent ear, nose and throat infections

  • Adverse drug reactions

  • Biochemical and nutritional imbalances