The retention of early reflexes appears to be due to some sort of stress or trauma – physical, chemical or hormonal – in utero, during birth and in the first year of life. An at-risk pregnancy, birth trauma, infant illness, and stress or illness in the mother (which would pump adrenaline and other hormones into the system) are some of the suspected causes. Certain reflexes not only aid the birth process but are reinforced by it, helping them to integrate and fall away. Thus, babies delivered by Caesarean section for example, which bypasses the activation of these vital reflexes, are at high risk of RRS.
There also seems to be an hereditary factor. Scientists are just beginning to understand that we are not just the product of our parents’ environment but also of our grandparents and great-grandparents. Famine, a few generations back for example, would impact not just on your great-grandmother, but the eggs she was carrying, influencing the way her descendants developed. So our ancestors’ environmental influences could impact on us
Similarly, if your mother had a still-active Moro reflex while you were in utero, making her anxious, fearful and routinely sending adrenaline round her body, this could have impacted on the growing foetus, predisposing you to retaining the Moro.
As a child with RRS, your ability to act and respond may also be reinforced by your current environment. A child brought up by hyperactive parents who eat on the run, for example, could find it difficult to sit still at the table.