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The Apgar Test

The Apgar score is a test that is done on your newborn to assess his physical condition immediately after birth. The name of the test is also an acronym for the five criteria that are evaluated in your newborn, designed and introduced by Dr Virginia Apgar in 1952.

Activity - this shows the health and tone of his muscles

0 = Limp, no movement
1 = Some movement of arms & legs
2 = Active movement

Pulse – this shows the rate and strength of his heartbeats

0 = No heart rate
1 = Fewer than 100 beats per minute
2 = At least 100 beats per minute

Grimace/ crying - Facial expressions and responses

0 = silence
1 = Whimpering
2 = crying and pull away, cough during suctioning

Appearance – How his lungs are oxygenating the blood

0 = the baby’s whole body is completely bluish-gray or pale
1 = Good colour in body with bluish hands or feet
2 = Good pink colour all over

Respiration – Breathing shows the health of his lungs

0 = Not breathing
1 = Irregular breathing
2 = Regular breathing

Guideline to the score

A score of 7 and above after birth is considered a good. However, a lower score is not necessarily indicative of an unhealthy or abnormal baby. A score between 4 and 6 at this point probably means that your baby needs a bit of extra care, such as oxygen to help him breathe, or having his airways suctioned. His score may improve after this. If your baby’s score hasn’t improved to 7 or more after the test is performed five minutes later, the doctors and nurses may continue with medical treatment and will closely monitor your baby. The Apgar score does not define the health of your baby’s future; it only assesses your baby’s physical condition within the first few minutes after birth. A slightly lower score taken from the test is completely normal for babies born from caesarean section or high-risk birth. In fact, few babies score a perfect ten.

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