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Apgar score measures a baby's health at birth

In 1952, an anesthesiologist named Virginia Apgar developed a process which is now commonly administered the first minute after a baby is delivered. This process yields what is known as the Apgar score, which is a measurement of various aspects of the baby's health. Specifically, the Apgar test examines a baby's breathing, appearance, pulse, muscle activity and responsiveness. Each of these categories is assigned a score and that score dictates if special care is required.

The scoring system is relatively easy to understand; each of the aforementioned categories is rated between zero and two, with two representing the best possible condition. For example, when checking a baby's heart rate, a score of two is given if the heart is beating at least 100 times per minute. A score of one is given for under 100 beats per minute, and zero is assigned if the heart's not beating at all.

Total scores of seven to 10 mean the baby is likely in good health. Scores of four to six could indicate the baby needs assistance and anything below four likely calls for emergency measures. The test is also administered to help determine the baby's progress. Again, scores of seven to 10 indicate all is well, and a lower score could mean that there is a problem.

If a doctor assigns the baby an accurate Apgar test, then he or she should be able to respond properly to the baby's condition. However, an incorrect assessment that results in a baby not receiving timely emergency care could have devastating results. A baby who does not get enough oxygen could suffer irreparable brain damage.

If you believe your baby suffered a preventable injury due to negligence on behalf of a doctor or other health care provider, an experienced medical malpractice attorney could work on your behalf in an effort to secure appropriate compensation for your baby's present and continued needs.

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