Neural Exam - Newborn cranial nerves

From Embryology
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Examination of the baby’s cranial nerve function is often accomplished by observing spontaneous activity.
  • During crying, facial movement (CN VII) Cranial Nerve 7 is observed for fullness or asymmetry.
  • The quality and strength of the cry is a way of looking at (CN IX) Cranial Nerves 9 and (CN X) 10 function.
  • Sucking and swallowing assesses (CN V, VII, IX, X) Cranial Nerves 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 because all of these cranial nerves are involved in this complex act.
  • Eye movements (CN III, IV, VI) Cranial Nerves 3, 4 and 6 can be assessed by using the vestibulo-ocular reflex (doll’s eyes maneuver).
  • When the head is turned, there is conjugate eye movement in the opposite direction.
  • Testing a baby’s behavior response to light (CN II) Cranial Nerve 2 and sound (CN VIII) Cranial Nerve 8 also adds to the cranial nerve exam.
  • Pupillary light reflex, corneal reflex, gag reflex and funduscopic exam are done in the same manner as the adult exam.

Cranial Nerves 
Nerve Number Name Type Origin Function
CN I Olfactory sensory telencephalon smell placode
CN II Optic sensory retinal ganglial cells vision
CN III Oculomotor motor anterior midbrain extraocular muscles eye movements and pupil dilation (motor)
CN IV Trochlear motor dorsal midbrain extraocular muscles (superior oblique muscle)
CN V Trigeminal motor/sensory pons touch, mastication
CN VI Abducent motor extraocular muscles control eye movements (lateral rectus muscle)
CN VII Facial motor/sensory pons facial expression, taste (tongue anterior and central regions) regulate salivary production.
CN VIII Acoustic sensory vestibular and cochlear nuclei hearing, placode
CN IX Glossopharyngeal motor/sensory medulla swallowing and speech, taste (tongue posterior region)
CN X Vagus motor/sensory medulla larynx and pharynx muscles (speech and swallowing), regulates heartbeat, sweating, and peristalsis
CN XI Accessory motor motor neurons sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles
CN XII Hypoglossal motor motor neurons tongue muscles (speech, eating and other oral functions)

Cranial Nerve Development: Newborn - Normal | Newborn - Abnormal | 3 months | 12 months | 18 months | Neural - Cranial Nerve Development

Neural Exam Movies: normal behaviour | cranial nerves | Newborn Tone - resting posture | upper extremity‎ | arm traction | arm recoil | scarf sign | hand position | lower extremity | leg traction‎ | leg recoil‎‎ | popliteal angle‎ | heel to ear | neck tone | head lag‎ | head control | Newborn Positions - prone | ventral suspension | vertical suspension | Newborn Reflexes - deep tendon reflexes | plantar reflex‎ | suck, root | Moro | Galant | stepping‎ | grasp | Newborn Head - head shape and sutures‎ | head circumference‎ | Neonatal Diagnosis

Movie Source - Paul D. Larsen  
Movies from the PediNeuroLogic Exam website are used by permission of Paul D. Larsen, M.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center and Suzanne S. Stensaas, Ph.D., University of Utah School of Medicine. Additional materials were drawn from resources provided by Alejandro Stern, Stern Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kathleen Digre, M.D., University of Utah; and Daniel Jacobson, M.D., Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin. The movies are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Links: Neural Exam Movies | Movies

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, May 18) Embryology Neural Exam - Newborn cranial nerves. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G