The birth of your baby is one of the happiest days of your life. That day could be tarnished if the baby suffers an injury at birth. When a birth injury occurs it is possible that the doctor, nurse, or hospital is to blame. Babies that suffer significant birth injuries may have ongoing medical and developmental problems for a period of months or years. Still others may never fully recover and will require ongoing care for the rest of their lives. Some of the most common serious birth injuries include:
· Brachial Plexus Injuries
· Perinatal Asphyxia
· Brain Hemorrhage
· Spinal Cord Injuries
· Cerebral Palsy
Babies born in United States hospitals are evaluated utilizing the Apgar system.
Apgar scores are a universal indicator as to the overall heatlh of an infant at birth. Immediately following the birth of a baby, the doctor evaluates the baby based on a number of factors to calculate the Apgar score. The score ranges from zero to ten, with zero being low and ten being a perfect score. The Apgar score helps to determine the need for immediate care of the infant. The first Apgar score is calculated at about 60 seconds after birth. It is then repeated at intervals of five minutes, depending on the needs of the infant.
What Apgar Scores Mean
The Apgar test measures five categories including:
· Heart Rate
· Muscle Tone
· Skin Appearance
· Reflex Response
Each of these can achieve a score of zero, one, or two. Most healthy infants receive a score of nine or ten. Low Apgar scores can mean that the baby is in immediate distress. A score of zero through three is a low Apgar score. Infants with continually low Apgar scores of three or below have a high mortality rate. Those with scores below normal may not be in immediate distress but they could predict neurologic or developmental disabilities. It is important to note that the low Apgar scores of high risk babies are not always a good indication of long-term problems.
Not all birth injuries are caused by negligence during labor or delivery. However, some injuries are the result of medical malpractice. When an otherwise healthy mother and baby experience complications during delivery it may have been caused by the negligence of the doctor or other medical staff. Birth injuries can be significant and may range from mild to severe. A low Apgar score alone is not an indicator of a birth injury, but it may show that the infant has experienced some type of problem. The doctor will need to perform further testing to determine the precise extent of the injury as well as the cause.
Parents of babies who received lower than average Apgar scores should not panic, but they do need to be concerned about the potential for physical or mental disabilities. If your baby suffered a serious birth injury contact the experienced attorneys at Levin & Perconti for a consultation to evaluate your case.
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