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Keywords:

  • neonate;
  • plantar response

Objective:  To evaluate plantar response in the early neonatal period in normal, term, healthy newborn infants. This was a prospective study set in the postnatal ward of a tertiary care hospital.

Methods:  The plantar response was elicited in 256 healthy, term, appropriate-for-gestational-age neonates during their first 7 days of life, utilizing the thumb-nail-drag method. The response was tested daily at intervals of 24 h, until the neonate was discharged. A total of 597 observations were made, and the responses were classified as extensor, flexor or equivocal.

Results:  The overall plantar response was found to be predominantly extensor (73.8%), followed by equivocal (17.3%) and, finally, flexor (8.9%). The plantar response was bilaterally extensor in 72.5%, bilaterally equivocal in 14.2%, and bilaterally flexor in 7.7% of observations, respectively. Asymmetrical plantar response was elicited in 5.4% of observations. No difference was observed in individual categories based on age (<12 h, 12.1−24 h, 24.1−72 h, 72.1 h−7 days) and site of response (right/left foot).

Conclusion:  The plantar response in healthy, term neonates is predominantly extensor. Further, the relatively high frequency of asymmetrical and symmetrical flexor responses limits its clinical usefulness in the early neonatal period.