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Babinski reflex

Definition

Babinski reflex is one of the reflexes that occurs 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.

Alternative Names

Reflex - Babinski; Extensor plantar reflex; Babinski sign

Common Causes

When the Babinski reflex is present in a child older than 2 years or in an adult, it is often a sign of a brain or nervous system disorder. Disorders may include:

References

Griggs RC, Jozefowicz RF, Aminoff MJ. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 403. 

Lehman RK, Schor NF. Neurologic evaluation. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 584.


Review Date: 1/22/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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