What Is The Landau Reflex And How Is It Evaluated?
The Landau reflex is one of many reflexes that can be seen in the first months of a baby’s life. These reflexes show that the nervous system is functioning efficiently.
Let’s review what the Landau reflex is, its characteristics and what other reflexes can be seen in the first months.
Like any other reflex, the Landau reflex is an involuntary response to a stimulus.
Reflexes are instinctive acts of our bodies. We carry them in our DNA, since their main function is to allow us to adapt to the surrounding environment that we interact with.
There are primary reflexes, which we are born with, such as yawning, sneezing or blinking. There are also secondary reflexes, which we “learn” in the course of our life.
To evaluate the Landau reflex, the baby is placed in a ventral position (face down) on your arm, forming a right angle with your forearm. The baby should straighten his torso and lift his limbs and head.
Generally, these movements are accompanied by the bending of the knees and elbows. What the baby tries to do with these actions is counteract the effect of gravity, while looking forward to find a visual reference point.
Reflexes can be primary, which we’re born with, or secondary, which we learn over time.
Characteristics of the Landau reflex
- The Landau reflex appears during the fourth month of life and continues until around age 2, but many researchers consider it to last until just after the first year.
- It represents a combination of tonic-labyrinth, neck tonic and visual reflexes.
- As the baby develops voluntary and conscious movements, this reflex begins to become less noticeable.
- It’s recommended that this be practiced by a specialist for two reasons: first, she’ll be able to evaluate the baby’s responses in a better way, and second, if you aren’t able to control the baby’s movement, he could fall or suffer from some sudden or inopportune movement.
What does absence of a reflex mean?
The absence of this response may suggest motor weakness on the part of the baby, and it will be necessary to exercise his motor development in a corresponding way.
Or, it could signal a delay in mental maturation. The best thing in these cases is to follow your pediatrician’s suggestions.
Doctors examine the presence of these reflexes very early in babies’ lives. This evaluation isn’t only quantitative, but also qualitative.
In other words, not only is the presence of the reflex noted, but also its execution, even if it’s totally involuntary.
If the expected reflex doesn’t appear, it could indicate some kind of deficiency. If the movement is weak, it can be a symptom of muscle weakness.
If it’s extreme, it could be the result of a withdrawal syndrome. If it’s asymmetrical, it could be a sign of a clavicular lesion, among other various possibilities.
Other secondary reflexes
The Landau reflex isn’t the only reflex characteristic of a baby’s first months of life. Among the main ones, we can name:
- Prehension reflex: the baby closes his fist to catch your finger or any object that approaches him.
- Walking reflex: the baby tries to walk when his feet touch a hard surface.
- Galant reflex: laying the baby face down and tapping or stroking on one side of the spine, the baby will turn toward where he is touched.
- Abdominal reflex: like the previous reflex, except laying the baby face-up. Instead of the spine, the abdominal area is stimulated. This should cause the torso to bend.
- Drag reflex: when laying the baby face-down, he should try to move his legs to start crawling. It’s normal for this reflex to occur before the definitive crawling stage.
- Crawling reflex: occurs when the previous reflex is sufficiently developed. You must put your baby on his tummy on a firm surface that allows him to support himself. He’ll immediately react and put himself in a crawling position. This reflex appears around 6 or 7 months and is maintained when the child begins to walk.
- Finger extension reflex: when the baby has a closed fist, we can gently caress the outer side of his hand, from the little finger to the wrist, to cause it to open. This technique can be very useful in getting the baby to release something that he has gotten hold of.
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- Alvarado, G. (2009). Los reflejos primitivos en el diagnóstico clínico de neonatos y lactantes. Revista de Ciencias Clínicas, 9(1), 15-26.
- Santos-Trapote, D. (2017). Integración de los Reflejos Primitivos como génesis del desarrollo motor (Bachelor’s thesis).
- Secadas, F. (1975). Evolución del comportamiento reflejo. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 19-45.