What is the Apgar score?
The Apgar score is simply a measure of a baby’s condition after birth. It is a guide for the doctors to make a quick decision on what kind of attention the baby needs. The score is assigned to a newborn baby born at 1 minute and 5 minutes after their birth.
This system is named after Dr. Virginia Apgar who developed the score. Until her system became commonly used, doctors sometimes missed internal problems at birth. They assumed newborns were healthy unless something was obviously wrong.
What does the Apgar score measure?
The Apgar score checks 5 characteristics of your baby.
- Skin colour.
- Heart rate.
- Reflexes and responsiveness.
- Muscle tone.
- Breathing rate.
Each characteristic is rated from 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score. The total gives an Apgar score out of 10 for your baby.
What do the Apgar scores mean?
A score of 7 or more is normal. A score of 6 or less at 1 minute and a score of 7 or more at 5 minutes is also normal. However, a score below 7 in the second test at 5 minutes is considered low.
If your baby's score was low in the first Apgar test and hasn't improved in the second test at 5 minutes, or there are other concerns, the doctors and nurses will closely monitor your baby and continue any necessary medical care.
What does the doctor do?
- The doctor will put antibiotic ointment on the baby's eyes to prevent infection.
- The baby is weighed. In India, the normal weight of a newborn male baby is up to 2.8 to 3.2 kgs at the time of birth. Whereas, in the case of a newborn female baby it is up to 2.7 to 3.1 kgs at the time of birth.
- Measure baby’s length (average length is 20 inches; 95 percent of newborns are between 18 and 22 inches).
- Measure head circumference (average is 13.8 inches; normal range is from 12.9 to 14.7 inches).