Common Causes of Low Apgar Scores
Common causes include:
• Precipitous delivery. Hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) can occur from a fast birth due to strong contractions or trauma to the baby's head.
• Nuchal cord. If the cord is wrapped around the fetal neck (one or more times) and obstructs blood flow, hypoxia can occur.
• Prolapsed cord. When the cord becomes trapped in the birth canal before the fetus is delivered, hypoxia can occur from obstructed blood flow.
• Placenta previa or abruptio placentae. Both can cause low infant Apgar scores because the placenta separates from the uterus before delivery, interrupting blood flow.
• Meconium aspiration. The fetus can have a bowel movement (meconium) in utero when distressed and may inhale some into their lungs, thus causing respiratory problems.
• Maternal analgesics and/or anesthetics. Narcotic drugs (normally given within 4 hours before birth) that pass from mom to fetus can suppress their ability to breathe.
• Preterm infants. Immature lungs and hypoglycemia are a couple of problems that can occur with preterm infants.
• Other common causes of low Apgar scores include maternal and fetal factors, such as maternal hemorrhage or fetal heart problem.