How an infant scores on the index known as the Apgar scale may predict the risk of cerebral palsy or an epilepsy diagnosis, according to an extensive observational study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The results of this study were published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal). Researchers found that even slightly lowered Apgar scores can be linked to a higher risk of cerebral palsy.
Apgar is basically a point system that is used at the time of birth to assess a newborn’s vitality at one, five and 10 minutes after birth. The scale ranges between 0 and 10. A score of 10 indicates a baby in full health. It is well known that a low Apgar score of between 0 and 6 points at one or five minutes after birth is linked to a higher risk of cerebral palsy. A very low score of between 0 and 3 points at 10 minutes indicates a significantly higher risk of cerebral palsy. But researchers in this study wanted to look at how small changes on the Apgar scale may be a predictor of cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
What the Study Found
For this study, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet analyzed data from the national Medical Birth Registry for more than 1.2 million babies born at full term between 1999 and 2012. They identified children diagnosed with cerebral palsy before the age of 16 and calculated the risk for every Apgar level. The found that 1,221 babies had developed cerebral palsy and that the risk successively increased with decreasing scores at five minutes.
Compared with infants with a top Apgar score of 10 at five minutes, babies with a score of 9 had almost twice the risk of developing cerebral palsy. A score of 0 at five minutes was associated with a 280-fold risk. So, even small changes in score between five and 10 minutes after birth were shown to heighten the risk of cerebral palsy. Researchers say this study shows it is critical to evaluate babies at both five and 10 minutes even if the score is normal at five minutes.
Understanding Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders that affects a person’s ability to move. This occurs due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or during or after birth. Cerebral palsy may affect body movement, muscle control, coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Even though cerebral palsy is a permanent life-long condition, some of these signs of cerebral palsy can improve or worsen over time. People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments. There is no known cure for cerebral palsy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, cerebral palsy affects about one in 323 children.
A difficult labor or delivery puts the child at risk for cerebral palsy. In fact, oxygen deprivation is one of the leading causes of cerebral palsy among infants. When the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen due to complications such as breech birth, shoulder dystocia or cord entanglement, the baby may get asphyxiated. Brain damage caused in such a situation might lead to cerebral palsy. Any type of trauma or injury to the child’s brain during birth may result in cerebral palsy. Sometimes, when an obstetrician applies too much force while trying to get the baby out, cerebral palsy may occur.
Contacting a Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as the result of medical negligence, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm helped a family secure a $43,940,000 verdict for a child who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Another client of ours received a $23,500,000 verdict for a child who developed cerebral palsy and mental retardation after suffering a birth injury. Both verdicts were so large that they were reduced on appeal. We also recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head
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