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What Is the APGAR Score?

When your baby is born he will be given an APGAR score at both one minute and five minutes after birth. Many new parents don’t know what the APGAR is or what exactly it is for. They are just given a number by their doctor or midwife and are supposed to know what it means.

what-is-an-apgar-score.jpgWhat It Means The APGAR score is a measurement of a newborn’s response to birth and life outside the womb. It was named for its creator, pediatrician Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), who introduced the system in 1952. Ratings are based on the following factors:

    Appearance (color)
    0 for blue or pale
    1 for pink with blue extremities
    2 for pink overall 

    Pulse (heartbeat)
    0 for absent (no pulse)
    1 for under 100 bpm
    2 for over 100 bpm

    Grimace (reflex)
    0 for non-responsive
    1 for grimace
    2 for cough or sneeze

    Activity (muscle tone)
    0 for limp
    1 for some reflex
    2 for active movement

    Respiration (breathing)
    0 for absent
    1 for slow, irregular
    2 for good crying

As you can see, for each factor, there is a score of 0 (poorest), 1 or 2 (best) which may be given. The score is taken at one and five minutes (sometimes also 10 minutes) after birth, the total high score being 10 and the lowest score being 0. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a statement in 1996 regarding the use, and abuse, of the scoring system as anything other than a newborn assessment tool: “APGAR scores are useful in assessing the condition of the infant at birth. Their use in other settings, such as collection of a child’s Apgar score at entry to school, is inappropriate.”

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