Babinski's Reflex
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine
Batten Disease
Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome
Blount's Disease
Blue Baby
Bonding with Baby
Bow Legs
Breast Milk Jaundice
Breech Presentation
Brittle Bone Disease
Brodies Abscess
Buerger's Disease
Neonatal Hepatitis
Nocturnal Enuresis

Understanding Babinski's Reflex

The Babinski's reflex, like all reflexes, is an involuntary nerve reaction to stimuli, in this case the foot. It is very important diagnostically because it is the final reflex down the spinal chord and therefor can show overall nerve reaction. In infants it is mostly used to test nerve development but is also used for injury assessment and to indicate certain ailments. In medical chart it is usually indicated was Babinski's sign positive (that is good), negative (bad), or indifferent (test again later). The layman's term for it is the Planter's reflex.

The Babinski reflex got it's name from the French neurologist Joseph Babinski after he identified it in the late 1800's. He used it in basically for the same things it is used for over 100 years later.

The change

Oddly enough, infants' reaction is different than that of an adult; it is opposite. In infant the positive response to rubbing the bottom of the foot would be big toe up and the other toes fanning out. The opposite reaction could mean the spinal chord has not fully developed or there was an injury during birth, most likely due to compression.

These reaction standards remain the same until about 24 months, then they flip around. Now a good reaction to the stimulus should be big toe down and the other toes clenching. This will remain that way through adulthood, barring any unlucky events.


As stated, the Babinski reflex is used on infant to check on spinal chord development and to check for spinal injuries. It can also help detect several ailments. In infants it would be very rare indeed for an infant to get rabies but it is in indicator in adults.

There are really quite a few things they can be an early indicator to. The neurodegenative disorder ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in adults or Batten's disease in anyone from infants to adults (one form or another can afflict any age). It can be use to help spot Multiple Sclerosis or MS, Spinal Meningitis, and even tuberculosis. Because it is telling your physician about the nerve flow it can help evaluate the damage from a stroke as well.

Physicians can use the Babinski's reflex to avoid more involved and expensive tests or to let them know if they should look further. A negative response can lead to a MRI of the head or spine, an angioplasty of the brain or a lumbar puncture.

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