A study published recently by several prominent pediatricians and neonatologists reports a connection between a baby born with low oxygen levels and a low IQ. According to the study, children resuscitated after birth were 65% more likely to have an IQ below 80 at age eight.
Previously, doctors believed that brain damage occurred only when fetal hypoxia lasted long enough to cause encephalopathy. However, the study established that mild hypoxic events can cause permanent harm to a child’s brain – a harm that cannot be identified for many years. The study further devalues APGAR scores, which have come under fire over the past few years. Many OBGYNS use APGAR scores to estimate a newborn’s condition even though it is wholly subjective and suffers from poorly reproducibility. The study establishes that an infant with normal APGAR scores can have brain damage.
According to Maureen Hack, M.D., and Eileen Stork, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, “[a]ssessment of a perinatal hypoxic event and its prognosis needs an objective measure other than the neonatal neurological presentation alone.”