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APGAR Scores and Relevance in Florida Birth Injury Cases

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Periodically and within the first moments of your baby’s life, he or she should be evaluated by Florida health care professionals in five different critical areas. Together, these criteria are referred to as an Apgar score, as a nod to the physician who developed the analysis in 1952 – and also an acronym for the factors. According to Nemours KidsHealth, “APGAR” stands for:

Appearance

Pulse

Grimace

Activity

Respiration

These characteristics are described in more detail below, but it’s important to note that low Apgar scores could be linked to negligence during delivery and labor. You should share them with a Florida birth injury lawyer to determine whether mistakes caused harm to your baby.

Overview of Apgar Score Analysis: To expand upon the five points mentioned above:

  • Appearance refers to complexion and color, such as whether the infant is pale all over or discolored at the extremities;
  • The newborn’s pulse is measured at a threshold of 100 beats per minute, so slower or faster would raise concerns;
  • Health care providers should note whether the baby grimaces or otherwise responds to stimulation;
  • The infant should exhibit some muscle and joint movement throughout the arms and legs; and,
  • Delivery room staff should note respiratory rate effort, and whether it’s weak or strong.

These factors should be checked immediately after birth, and again around five minutes later. A score between 0-2 is given for each category listed above and the overall score for all categories ranges from 0-10.  A baby who receives an overall score of 7 or above is considered to be in good health. 

Common Causes of Low Apgar Scores: There are many causes of low Apgar scores, but some are more likely to be linked to mismanagement in the delivery process. They include:

  • Issues with the umbilical cord;
  • Rupture of the uterus;
  • Trauma to the infant’s head through improper usage of forceps or vacuum extractor;
  • A reaction to drugs used to stimulate contractions, which can deprive the baby of oxygen;
  • Preeclampsia, i.e., high blood pressure for the mother;
  • Delayed decision for C-section; and,
  • Many others.

Proper Care for an Infant with a Low Apgar Score: At the first measurement, a score of 7 or higher typically means the baby needs routine post-delivery care and monitoring. When a newborn has a score of 4-6, delivery room personnel must be on high alert that he or she may need assistance; an Apgar score of less than that could require emergency intervention. Health care providers must continue to monitor and make an Apgar assessment for up to 20 minutes or more when the infant’s first score starts low, even once it reaches 7. 

Consult with a Florida Birth Injuries Lawyer About Your Options 

Discrepancies in Apgar scores are just one of many factors that may indicate negligence in delivery and labor, as there are many other circumstances that could have caused harm to your infant. If your family has been affected by a birth injury, it’s important to discuss your legal remedies with our experienced Miami birth injury attorneys at Freidin Brown, P.A. Please contact our offices right away to set up a free consultation regarding your claim.

Resource:

kidshealth.org/en/parents/apgar.html

https://www.yourfloridatrialteam.com/common-types-of-errors-that-lead-to-birth-injuries/

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