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East Afr Med J. 2003 Jan;80(1):22-9.

Immediate outcome of babies with low Apgar score in Mulago Hospital, Uganda.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Makerere University Medical School, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda.



Birth asphyxia contributes significantly to perinatal morbidity and mortality especially in resource poor countries. Although the Apgar score has been in use for over 50 years, the prevalence of low Apgar score and attendant risk factors and outcome have not been established in many sub-Saharan countries including Uganda.


To determine the prevalence of low Apgar score and establish immediate outcome and possible risk factors for poor outcome in babies with low Apgar score.


Labour wards, operating theatres and special baby care unit, Mulago Teaching and referral Hospital, Uganda.


Babies delivered in Mulago Hospital between September and October 1999. Those with low Apgar scores, together with an equal number of babies with normal scores matched for sex as controls, were followed up for 48 hours.


Clinical features, anthropometry, gestational age, oxygen saturation, blood glucose and autopsy of babies who died.


Clinical improvement, death, complications such as HIE, RDS, aspiration pneumonia, hypoglycaemia, hypothermia, hypotension and hypoxaemia.


The prevalence of low Apgar score at one and five minutes was 8.4% and 2.8% respectively. Adverse outcome was seen in 57.3% of cases: death in 12.1% and clinical complications in 45.2%. HIE occurred in 21.8%, hypoxaemia in 12.9%, hypoglycaemia in 16.9% and aspiration pneumonia in 4.8%. Maternal factors significantly associated with low Apgar scores included primiparity, abnormal delivery, age and medical diseases during pregnancy, while birth injuries and cord accidents were the baby factors. Poor outcome was associated with birth injury, hypothermia, hypoglycaemia, hypotension, aspiration pneumonia, hypoxaemia and severe birth asphyxia.


Even though the prevalence of low Apgar was only 8.4%, adverse outcomes associated with it were observed in more than half the patients. Therefore there is need to carefully evaluate and monitor babies with low Apgar scores immediately after birth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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