Baby's First Standardized Test a Critical One

Low Apgar score (less than 3) points to higher risk of cerebral palsy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists in Norway have found that low Apgar scores may indicate a link to cerebral palsy.

A newborn's low score on the Apgar test (a quantitative assessment of complexion, pulse rate, reaction when stimulated, muscle tone and breathing on a 10-point scale) may be associated with a higher risk of cerebral palsy.

Test results are regarded as critically low if falling below 3, fairly low (4 to 6) and generally normal (7 to 10).

Researchers looked at test scores taken five minutes after birth and incidences of cerebral palsy in 543,064 children born between 1986 and 1995. Children with an Apgar score of less than 3 were 100 times more likely to have cerebral palsy than children with a score of 10. This link was prevalent in children with normal birth weight but only modest in children with low birth weight.

However, almost 90 percent of children with an Apgar score of less than 4 at birth did not develop cerebral palsy, affecting two to three infants in every 1,000 births in Western countries.

Cerebral palsy, thought to be a combination of disorders, can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, hearing, vision, reasoning and cognition.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 23, 2010
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011