How Is the Apgar Score Related to Birth Injuries?

apgar score and birth injuries

Developed in 1953 by physician Virginia Apgar, M.D., the Apgar score is a way to measure the initial health of a newborn. The score brought about a more uniform way of measuring heart rate, respiratory rate, reflex irritability, muscle tone and color. The test is given within minutes of the baby’s birth and used by every physician and nurse. The baby is ranked on a scale of 0-10 with 0 meaning the baby needs resuscitation and 10 meaning the baby is very healthy. If the baby is struggling, the Apgar is continuously given until the baby improves.

The Apgar is a useful tool to measure newborn responses, but a low score does not always mean fetal distress. However, if medical personnel do not pay attention, the baby could suffer permanent damage.

What Does A Low Score Mean For Your Baby?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warn that the Apgar, while useful, is a rapid method of assessing a newborn’s health and should not be the only test used to measure newborn response. An initial low score means the child is in need of immediate medical attention but does not mean there will be long-term repercussions. If an infant’s score remains low after five or 10 minutes, a retrospective analysis should be completed because it may be an indicator of medical malpractice.

Low Apgar scores are associated with any number of issues that do not lead to death or cerebral palsy; however, they can lead to other permanent disabilities. For example, interference from the umbilical cord, known as nuchal cord, occurs when the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck, restricting the flow of oxygen. The doctor should be able to spot this and correct it without any permanent damage to baby. Unusually long or strenuous labors can be very stressful for any unborn baby, and it is important for the doctor and nurses to pay close attention to the fetal heartbeat to ensure that fetal heart rate does not drop drastically.

Women may depend on the use of an epidural in order to relieve some of the pain and discomfort of labor. However, if not given during the correct time frame, the drug can pass from mother to baby and suppress the baby’s ability to breath at birth. This could cause a low Apgar score but should not lead to any permanent disability.

Preventable Birth Problems Call For Action

While no one ever expects any problems during the birthing process, there are any number of things that can go wrong. It is imperative to determine if those things could have been prevented by proper medical care and attention to detail.

If you have suffered from malpractice in the delivery of your infant, it is crucial to get the right medical malpractice attorney to handle your case quickly. The lawyers at the Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York are experienced and aggressive when it comes to medical malpractice. We fight for your rights as well as the rights of your baby. Call us today for a free consultation