Apgar Scores And Link To Cerebral Palsy
The APGAR test evaluates the health of a newborn baby after labor and delivery. The test was originally developed by Dr. Virginia Apgar in 1952. It is given to nearly all children born in the United States and is also used world-wide. The APGAR TEST is performed by an obstetrician, nurse or midwife one minute after the baby’s birth and then again five minutes after birth.
APGAR, which is an acronym, measures:
- Appearance - skin color
- Pulse – heart rate measured by stethoscope
- Grimace – response to stimulation (reflexes)
- Activity – muscle tone
- Respiration – breathing effort
The baby is given a score of 0, 1 or 2 based on the doctor, nurse or other medical professional’s observation for each category with a best possible total score of 10. Generally, an infant with a score less than 7 will require some medical attention. A low score will often indicate that the newborn baby suffered some distress during labor and delivery. For example, if a fetus is deprived of oxygen during the birthing process, the baby may have suffered hypoxia. Hypoxia can affect any or all of the APGAR measurements and will require that the baby receive further medical treatment.
The British Medical Journal in 2010 cites a Norwegian study of 500,000 babies born between 1986 and 1995. The study found that about 11% of newborns with an APGAR score less than 3 were later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Comparatively, babies with a score of 10 had a .1% rate of a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis. Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the muscular and nervous systems of developing children. Generally, Cerebral Palsy is diagnosed in the first three years of life. The study suggests that the causes of Cerebral Palsy may be strongly associated with low APGAR scores.
Medical professionals can and should take measures to timely deliver a fetus (baby) during a traumatic birth, monitor the fetus and the mother during labor and delivery, use delivery room equipment properly and provide follow up care to babies suffering difficult births to reduce the chance of a child suffering birth injuries. Low APGAR scores may be linked to trauma that the newborn suffers just prior to or during the birth process.
If you feel that medical negligence may have put your baby’s health at risk during labor and delivery, please contact attorney Brett H. Oppenheimer. Brett is a Kentucky cerebral palsy attorney who can address your concerns by exploring your baby’s medical history, including medical records, pregnancy, labor and delivery charts Fetal Heart Monitor strips (FHM strips) and APGAR scores to determine if there was a failure to meet the required standard of medical care. You can call Brett at (502) 242-8877 to schedule a free consultation.