The Moro reflex is a normal reflex for an infant when he or she is startled or feels like they are falling. The infant will have a "startled" look and the arms will fling out sideways with the palms up and the thumbs flexed. Absence of the Moro reflex in newborn infants is abnormal and may indicate an injury or disease.
Review Date 1/24/2023
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.