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Baby’s First Assessment: The APGAR Score

APGAR Score infographic

The birth of a baby is thrilling for parents. But the delivery room can be confusing with medical personnel and lots of monitors. A number of screenings for newborns are given right away, including the APGAR Score, which is one of the most common newborn assessments.

The APGAR is given one minute after birth and then again at five minutes after birth. It was developed in 1952 by Virginia Apgar, MD, as a quick method of assessing a newborn’s status after birth. The score is given based on the following factors:

  • Appearance (skin color)
  • Pulse (heart rate)
  • Grimace response (reflexes)
  • Activity (muscle tone)
  • Respiration (breathing rate and effort)

These indicators can help assess low oxygenation of the blood, a slow heart rate, and breathing difficulties. Each item is scored with a 2, 1, or 0, and then the points are added up for all five factors. Babies are considered in good health if they score a 7 or higher. Babies born prematurely or after a high-risk pregnancy, difficult labor, or C-section may score lower than normal but still be perfectly healthy.

If the newborn scores a low number with the first APGAR, and the number doesn’t increase when the five-minute assessment is given, the medical staff may continue with further medical care and assign further APGAR scores as needed.

The APGAR is just the first step in ensuring your baby thrives.