There is a “new viral sensation.”

Ok, there is one almost every day, but this one is a NEWBORN BABY WALKING AT BIRTH LEAVING MIDWIVES STUNNED IN BRAZIL.

This is not news this is normal pediatrics. The baby is exhibiting a primitive reflex called the walking or stepping reflex. There is no weight-bearing and no purpose. This is not walking as we know it but a reflex that happens when the soles of a supported infant touch a flat surface. This the equivalent of, “Man’s leg moves without thinking stunning doctor!” and then after 4 paragraphs of drivel read the knee was hit with a reflex hammer the instant before. But is that the cause? Who knows!

If any midwife is stunned by this she needs to go back to school or retire. I mean THIS IS NORMAL I am shouting because if you deliver babies and don’t know this there is an issue. I haven’t delivered a baby in 11 years and I still know this. Some of the articles mention this is normal reflex (at the end of course) and do question why the midwife was so surprised about it (even further at the end of the article), but knowing this was normal and not newsworthy still did not stop them from forcing it through a square peg to make it news. I’m not embedding the video or linking to it as I don’t want to add page clicks.

Any journalist who saw this “viral sensation” should have passed on it. Guess who helps make videos like this a viral sensation? Right. Every editor who went along with this story should ask themselves, “Did I help people today by making it appear that a newborn reflex is a miracle?” Talk about lowering the medical I.Q. Of course people are going to click as most people don’t know about the walking reflex or may have once known and forgotten.

What’s the harm? Well, it makes everyone less intelligent and it supports anti-abortion falsehoods. If a baby can walk at birth obviously at 34 weeks it is doing an SAT prep course via a vaginal speaker. It’s no different from the “hand clapping” ultrasounds or “twin hand holding videos” that appear from time to time. Look, if you take enough pictures of me walking at one point I will have both feet off the ground but that doesn’t mean I’m levitating.

So yes, a newborn baby exhibited a primitive reflex as expected. Is it cool? Sure, put the video up with an appropriate header about this being a normal reflex that you may have missed at your kid’s birth or just something cool you may want to see, don’t blather on about “walking.”  The headlines make it seem as though the kid strolled on out of the uterus.

The fact that a normal medical reflex that is seen A COUPLE OF HUNDRED TIMES A MINUTE is a “viral” sensation makes my head hurt because each piece of incredulous and incorrect medical information that is digested just makes it easier for the next one to root. The anti-choice movement uses these kinds of videos so in addition to the trading page clicks for I.Q. points it contributes to a very different game of misinformation.

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  1. I found this story online and I could not believe it! I’m glad someone finally debunked it. I think people will believe anything the media produces and it is sad that they might not always produce correct information. This was also informative because I did not know that babies could do that.

  2. Wait… Doesn’t everyone know about this? I assumed it was common knowledge. Like you said, it’s a fun demonstration of reflexes, but the kid didn’t use his umbilical cord as a skipping rope/jump rope.

    Vacuous click bait – making the world less intelligent one link at a time.

    1. i was surprised it got this much attention too. *Really* hope the “midwives stunned” thing was journalistic hyperbole because even mildly surprsed would be a dumb reaction for anyone who delivers babies for a living.

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