Babinski reflex is one of the normal reflexes in infants. Reflexes are responses that occur when the body receives a certain stimulus.
The Babinski reflex occurs after the sole of the foot has been firmly stroked. The big toe then moves upward or toward the top surface of the foot. The other toes fan out.
This reflex is normal in children up to 2 years old. It disappears as the child gets older. It may disappear as early as 12 months.
When the Babinski reflex is present in a child older than 2 years or in an adult, it is often a sign of a central nervous system disorder. The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. Disorders may include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease)
- Brain tumor or injury
- Meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury, defect, or tumor
- Neurodegenerative diseases
Reflex - Babinski; Extensor plantar reflex; Babinski sign
Deluca GC, Griggs RC. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 368.
Mostoufi SA. Cervical radiculopathy. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 5.
Schor NF. Neurologic evaluation. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 608.
Review Date 1/28/2021
Updated by: Evelyn O. Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.