APGAR scores: Know their importance

July 18, 2019 | Crandall & Pera Law
APGAR scores: Know their importance

When you're pregnant or expecting a child with your partner, one of the things you'll learn about is the APGAR score. an APGAR score is given to newborns to identify their overall health.

An APGAR score is important, because it identifies the baby's appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration following birth (APGAR). Using this test, it's possible to check the baby's health and to make sure they don't need any further medical care.

Each section of the APGAR test identifies things such as the skin color the child has, their resting heart rate, their reflexes, any muscle tone and the effort they are putting into breathing. Scores are listed from 0 to 2, with 2 being normal and 0 being abnormal.

What are positive APGAR scores?

When babies score well on an APGAR test, it means that they're healthy and normal. To rank 2 on the APGAR test in each section, a child must:

  • Be a normal color (with pink hands and feet)
  • Have a pulse no lower than 100 beats per minute
  • Pull away, cough, sneeze or cry when stimulated
  • Have spontaneous movements
  • Have a good, solid cry and be breathing at a normal rate with minimal effort.

A baby who scores 7 or above is considered healthy. Lower scores don't necessarily mean that a child isn't healthy, but it does mean that they may need monitoring or further medical care. For example, a baby with slow or irregular breathing may need sectioning of their airways so that they can breathe more easily.

Interestingly, many babies score low on the APGAR test, especially immediately after birth. However, they should be tested again and have improvements very quickly.

A poor APGAR test can identify problems that need emergency medical care

A poor APGAR test does often identify problems that require medical interventions, such as the use of oxygen or other supports for the child. If a poor APGAR outcome is achieved, the medical team should be focused on finding out the cause and addressing it, especially if the child is not improving.

If a poor APGAR test is ignored, it doesn't mean a baby will get sicker or die, but it could mean that they struggle or end up having complications that they wouldn't otherwise have dealt with. If your child had a poor APGAR test result and was injured as a result of a lack of assistance, you should be able to make a claim for negligence.