Apgar Score

Birth Injury
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What is an Apgar Score?

An Apgar Score test is a quick and simple test given to newborns shortly after birth. The test is performed at 1 and 5 minutes by healthcare personnel. Apgar stands for “appearance (skin color), pulse (heart rate), grimace (reflexes), activity (muscle tone) and respiration (breathing rate and effort).”  The Apgar test checks an infant’s heart rate, muscle tone and other signs indicating if extra medical care or immediate emergency care is needed. The test may be given again if there are concerns about the baby’s condition.

What Does It Mean If My Baby’s Apgar Score Is Low?

An Apgar test looks at five areas to check a newborn’s health with each area receiving a score of 0-2, with 2 being the best score. The five individual scores are added together for a total score of between 0-10, with 10 being the highest score possible. Few babies get a score of 10 because most babies’ hands and feet don’t turn pink until they have warmed up.  

Apgar Score Chart 
The initial 1 minute Apgar score indicates a newborn’s status at the time of delivery. Many babies with Apgar scores less than 7 at 1 minute quickly improve as they adjust to the transition to the outside world.

At 5 minutes, an Apgar score of 7 to 10 is considered reassuring, a score of 4 to 6 is considered moderately abnormal, and a score of 0 to 3 is considered to be low in a baby who is not preterm (premature.) Some medical literature reports that an Apgar score of 0 to 3 at 5 minutes or more is considered a nonspecific sign of illness, which “may be one of the first indications of encephalopathy.” 

A 1-minute Apgar score of 0 to 3 does not predict any individual infant’s outcome. A 5-minute Apgar score of 0 to 3 is associated with poor outcomes in large populations but it does not predict individual future health issues. Population studies have uniformly reassured us that most infants with low Apgar scores will not develop cerebral palsy. However, a low 5-minute Apgar score clearly correlates with an increased risk for development of cerebral palsy, reported to be as high as 20- to 100-fold over that of infants with a 5-minute Apgar score of 7 to 10. The risk of permanent disability or death is increased when the Apgar score is 3 or less at 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes. 

What Causes a Low Apgar Score?

Newborns who are diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy from decreased oxygen during labor and delivery and who go on to develop cerebral palsy often have Apgar scores of less than 7 at 1, 5, and 10 minutes. Newborns with low Apgar scores may be candidates for therapeutic cooling.

About our Birth Injury Attorneys

Birth injury medical malpractice cases require extensive knowledge of both law and medicine. Robins Kaplan LLP birth injury attorneys and medical analysts have extensive experience handling these complex cases. We have been recognized for recovering remarkable settlements for people in Minnesota who have suffered serious injuries or economic harm due to medical negligence.

If you or your child suffered a birth injury due to improper care during your pregnancy or at the time of delivery, we can help.

Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation

Call 1.800.552.7115 or complete our free case evaluation form to speak to a medical analyst who understands. There is no charge for this call or evaluation.

Our attorneys handle matters primarily in Minnesota, Iowa, North DakotaSouth Dakota, and Wisconsin.

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