A: The APGAR score is the result of a test given to your baby immediately after birth.  The test is meant to quickly evaluate your baby's condition to determine whether there is a need for additional care, including emergency care.

The score reflects an assessment of five factors: activity and muscle tone; pulse; grimace response; appearance (skin color); and respiration.

An APGAR score of 7 or above within 1 minute of birth generally is indicative of a healthy baby.  Lower scores, however, do not necessarily mean that your baby is unhealthy.  Rather, your baby may merely require some help like suctioning or oxygen.  Your baby will be tested again at 5 minutes and, sometimes, at 10 minutes.

Points in the APGAR scoring system are assigned as follows:

Apgar Sign 2 1 0
Heart Rate
Normal (above 100 beats per minute)Below 100 beats per minuteAbsent
(no pulse)
(rate and effort)
Normal rate and effort, good crySlow or irregular breathing, weak cryAbsent (no breathing)
Grimace (responsiveness or "reflex irritability") Pulls away, sneezes, or coughs with stimulationFacial movement only (grimace) with stimulationAbsent (no response to stimulation)
(muscle tone)
Active, spontaneous movementArms and legs flexed with little movementNo movement, "floppy" tone
(skin coloration)
Normal color all over (hands and feet are pink)Normal color (but hands and feet are bluish)Bluish-gray or pale all over

Most babies with low APGAR scores will end up fine.  The APGAR score is a method used to quickly assess whether the baby needs extra care or monitoring.  If your baby has a low APGAR score, your doctor or midwife should explain to you how your baby is doing, what might be causing the problem and what care is being given.

Rarely, a baby does not receive the necessary care and is injured as a result.  Sometimes a low APGAR score reflects a lack of oxygen prior to, during or immediately after birth that may have caused damage to the baby's brain, a condition sometimes referred to as birth asphyxia.

If you'd like a free, no-obligation consult with an Erie birth injury lawyer, call us today at 814-580-5017 or toll free at 877-505-9548.