Wound up, Easily Irritated, Hypersensitive - Ever wanted to know what these things can have in common?
To understand the significance of a retained Moro reflex, it is important to know what it is and what it is supposed to do. Just like other primitive reflexes, the Moro is present at birth and should integrate (superseded by higher functions of the brain) between 2-4 months of age. It is there to stimulate arousal, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (fight or flight), and for the summoning of assistance (eg. calling for mummy in the infant age) (2).
When the Moro is retained past 6 months of age, it is associated with a hypersensitivity to sensory input, due to this reflex responding before our higher control centres of the brain has a chance to respond. These children (or adults) become overloaded very quickly. It can be to all things around them, or more specific things, such as light or sound.
In the long run, it can have big impacts on how well we are able to regulate our emotional responses due to a lowered threshold for arousal (sudden sounds, light, movement) (2).
Other common symptoms of a retained Moro reflex include (but not limited to); hyperactivity, difficulty with new stimulating experiences, impulsive behaviour, anxiety (especially anticipation anxiety) (2).
We see the Moro reflex, along with many other primitive reflexes, retained in a higher concentration with children diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disorders. These children classically have trouble expressing themselves appropriately. The primitive reflexes are hierarchical, and as a result, they (should) integrate in order. Moro is one of the first reflexes to integrate, and therefore has a great propensity to hinder a child’s progression through later reflexes. This is where we see the parallel presentation with learning disorders (1-4).
So, if you suspect that you or your child may have a retained Moro reflex, book in to be assessed by one of our chiropractors to see how we can help you.