Brazelton scale: characteristics and what is it for

The arrival of a new human being in the world is in most cases a source of joy, at least when it comes to a desired pregnancy.

After delivery, a series of small tests are carried out, in a test or a battery of tests that allow us to assess the health and responsiveness of the newborn. One of the most typical, well-known and widely used tests is the Apgar test, which is usually done a few minutes after switching on and allows us to get a general idea of ​​the health of the child.

But the Apgar test is not the only test that can be taken on a baby, there are many more that allow you to get a great deal of information about the child’s perception and response abilities. One of them is the Brazelton scale, A frequently used test that provides information related to the development of behaviors or the existence of reflexes. And it is this last test that we will be talking about throughout this article.

    The Brazelton scale: what is it?

    The Brazelton test or scale, also known as the Neonatal Behavior Rating Scale, is a tool that allows the early detection of neurodevelopmental problems.

    It is a type of highly interactive test in which they are verified a series of 53 items, 35 of which analyze children’s behavior (Seven of which are considered complementary and tell us about the need to stimulate it) while the others aim to assess the existence of certain reflexes. While behavioral items are scored on a 9-point scale, reflex referents assess good neurological status on a 4-point scale.

    The Brazelton scale is considered one of the most suitable for identifying the existence of deficits or difficulties in the abilities of infants, resulting in a very detailed assessment which allows a score profile to be established against various aspects. of health. And even if there is no deficit as such, it allows to assess the general way of reacting to the child’s environment (This in turn gives us an idea of ​​his temperament) or whether certain behaviors are more difficult for him than others.

    It is a very useful tool which enables results to be obtained at a quantitative level, And although it is not mandatory in the national health system, it tends to apply in the first days of a child’s life. It also helps to assess the existence of certain abilities both upon awakening and during sleep, and although it generally follows a certain pattern or order in the application of the tests allows some flexibility in its application, being able to develop assessment based on the baby’s situation.

      Main aspects assessed

      The Brazelton scale is a large and fairly comprehensive scale, which includes a total of 53 items that allow us to get an idea of ​​the abilities of the newborn in different areas of functioning. These elements are grouped into a set of major aspects, factors or modules, which include the grouping of different tests according to the type of classification in progress.

      1. Autonomous nervous system

      Includes reflex assessment and health status linked to the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. In this sense, it supports the basic functions of the body, including breathing and temperature regulation, variations in skin color or the presence of tremors or tremors.

        2. Engine system

        A second module focused on the good state of the reflexes and the capacity of movement, in which the muscle tone appears involved. It includes such things as motor maturity, response to the hug, general muscle tone, or lability of the child’s condition.

        3. Habituation

        This test module it seeks to assess the child’s ability to get used to the stimulation, Evaluate if he is able to inhibit his reactions and even sleep in the presence of light or repetitive stimulation. It includes tests such as decreased response to light, sound or tactile stimulation, as well as observation of their condition or response to the action of discovery.

        4. Organization of the State

        A module that aims to answer the question of how he is able to organize himself to activate and respond to stimulation. They are part of the items that assess the level of activity, the hand-to-mouth capacity, the speed of reaction to stimulation or the moment of maximum arousal.

        5. State regulation

        In this module, it is observed and analyzed the child’s ability to manage and respond to stimulation. It includes a number of items that assess the ability to comfort oneself or to receive comfort from the environment, the ability to irritate upon stimulation, or to strive to maintain attention, or the ability to ask. help.

        6. Social interactive

        A set of items that can only be performed when the child is in a calm and awake situation. They share with each other the fact that they allow to assess the degree of reaction and the ability to follow visual and sound stimuli, especially those typical of interaction with others.

        In this way elements that value animated and inanimate visual and auditory orientation are included, Both individually and simultaneously.

        7. Use of this scale

        The Brazelton scale was created primarily for use in the clinical setting and as a tool to detect possible abnormalities in the development of infants, which could result from alterations in fetal development. However, although it is used for this purpose, it has also received a great deal of research attention.

        Not only were these scales used to assess the difficulties but as a mechanism to reconcile positions and promote interaction between the child and his environment, A little facilitated by the fact that we are faced with a very interactive test.

        It has been observed that this helps to increase the confidence and attitudes of parents as well as to establish communication which allows one to begin to understand and learn what the child is like.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Costes Moragas, C .; Fornieles Deu, A .; Botet Mussons, F .; Boatella Costa, E .; by Cáceres Zurita, ML (2007). Psychometric evaluation of the Brazelton scale in a sample of Spanish infants. Psicothema, 19, (1): 140-149. University of Oviedo Oviedo, Spain
        • Domínguez Fontenla, M., Cruz Fernández, V., Abelleira Docabo, M., Amado Mera, A. and Fernández Barreiros, M. (2009). Evolutionary development of newborns: clinical utility of the Brazelon scale (NBAS). Proceedings of the 10th International Congress of Galician-Portuguese Educational Psychology. Braga: University of Minho.

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