Low Apgar Score at Birth Linked to Cerebral Palsy

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[Source: Science Daily.com]   —  A low Apgar score at birth is strongly associated with cerebral palsy in childhood, concludes a study from researchers in Norway published on the British Medical Journal website.

The Apgar score is a quick and simple way to assess a baby’s condition at birth. The baby is assessed on five simple criteria (complexion, pulse rate, reaction when stimulated, muscle tone, and breathing) on a scale from zero to two. The five values are then summed up to obtain a score from zero to 10.    Scores of 3 and below are generally regarded as critically low, 4 to 6 fairly low, and 7 to 10 generally normal.

Cerebral palsy is a rare disease, affecting two to three infants in every 1000 live born children in Western countries. Recent studies have found a strong link between low Apgar score and cerebral palsy in children born to term or with normal birth weight, whereas studies in children with a low birth weight or born preterm have shown conflicting results.

Using linked data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Registry of Cerebral Palsy in Children, the researchers assessed the association of Apgar score five minutes after birth with cerebral palsy in 543,064 children born between 1986 and 1995.

A total of 988 children included in the study (1.8 in 1000) were diagnosed with cerebral palsy before the age of five years.

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