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Head Position Preference in the Human Newborn: A New Look

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Head position preference was studied in 20 awake newborns who differed in terms of delivery and sex. They were placed supine on a custom-built platform to reduce the effects of gravity and asymmetries in trunk posture and skull shape. A global and a specific scoring method were used, the infants being in State 3 (quiet wakefulness) or 4 (active wakefulness, excluding crying). Delivery and sex did not account for differences in head position. The head turned more often to the right and was maintained longer in this position during State 3, regardless of scoring method. The maintenance of the head in midline was comparable in duration to that reported for infants at 2–3 months when using the global scoring method. This suggests that the neural mechanisms responsible for attaining and maintaining a midline position are present at birth, but are not functionally expressed due to a lack of adequate power in the antigravity muscles of the neck.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, United Kingdom, and Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Publication date: 01 February 1998

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