APGAR – What it Means for your Baby

February 12, 2014

APGAR Score for BabyWhat Does Your Baby’s APGAR Score Mean?


The birth of your baby should be the happiest moment of your life. In most cases, your baby will be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes something goes wrong with the delivery, and as a result, the baby is not as healthy as you had hoped.  One way to know if something might be wrong with your baby is a low APGAR score.

What is an APGAR Score?

Sometimes called newborn scoring, APGAR is a test performed one and five minutes after birth.  The test’s purpose is to determine if a newborn is breathing well or is having heart problems.

A score of 7-10 is considered normal. 4-6 is somewhat low and means the baby should receive medical attention. A low score, between 0 and 3, normally means that your baby needs serious medical attention immediately. If your baby has a low score, s/he will be tested again to see if the score increases.

Keep in mind, the APGAR score’s purpose is not to provide long-term predictions of your baby’s health. If your baby has a low score in the first or second test, it does not mean s/he has suffered permanent damage or will have long term problems. Unfortunately, a low score that remains low, does increase the chance that your baby will suffer long-term neurological damage. In addition, there is an increased risk of cerebral palsy if your baby has a continuously low APGAR score.

The Test Criteria

The test examines five criteria:

1. Appearance and complexion (skin coloration)
2. Pulse rate (heart rate)
3. Grimace (reflex irritability)
4. Activity (muscle tone)
5. Respiratory (breathing rate and effort)

Why Does My Baby Have a Low APGAR Score?

The most common causes of a low score are:

  • Difficult birth
  • C-section
  • Fluid in the baby’s airway

If your baby has a low score, s/he might receive oxygen or something to clear out the airway. In addition, s/he might receive physical stimulation to get the heart beating at an appropriate rate.

Does a Low APGAR Score Mean Medical Malpractice Occurred?

When a baby has a low APGAR score, it is no surprise that the new parents are upset and worried about their child’s health. They also fear that their baby will need long-term and expensive medical care. They worry whether they will be able to provide the care that their baby needs.

Did the Medical Staff Treat You and Your Baby Properly?

In some cases, a low APGAR score and the health issues the baby might have, would have occurred regardless of how the medical staff at the hospital conducted themselves during or prior to the delivery.

In other cases, something went wrong with the mother’s or baby’s treatment prior to or during the delivery because the medical staff failed to follow the medical standard of care.

Fast Treatment is Critical

If your baby has a low APGAR score, it is the hospital’s responsibility to act immediately to provide proper treatment.  If the baby suffered damage because the hospital did something wrong before or during the delivery, or if the hospital failed to help your baby appropriately when s/he has a low APGAR score, you might have a medical malpractice case.

Get Your Baby Checked Out Immediately

The only way for you to know for sure whether your baby will need long-term care is to have him/her evaluated by medical professionals. You should have your baby checked immediately by medical experts. It might not be clear, at first, whether your baby has suffered damage, so a number of tests over a period of time might be necessary.

Find Out if you Have a Medical Malpractice Case

During such an anxious time, you will need guidance on what to do to help you determine whether you have a medical malpractice case.  The last thing you need to do is focus on whether you have a case and whether you can receive financial compensation for any harm your baby suffered. Financial compensation is often very important when a baby has been injured due to medical negligence, because raising a child who requires long-term care due to brain injury or who needs cerebral palsy treatment can be very expensive.

Do You Have a Case?

The best thing you can do is to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer here at Lowenthal & Abrams.  We handle cases involving birth injury and can help you  determine if you have a potential lawsuit. We know that you and your family are in pain over your baby’s low APGAR score and are worried about the future. You should focus on your baby and his/her health. Let us focus on the legal issues.




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