APGAR score is a test done in newborn babies immediately after birth. It is done to evaluate the physical condition of the baby after the birthing process and to figure out whether there is any condition that requires immediate medical attention. It was invented by Dr Virginia Apgar in 1952.

Apgar score is given after evaluating the baby on five parameters – Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. Each criteria are evaluated on a scale of zero to two and the score is summed up to get the total Apgar score. The test is done one to five minutes after birth and will be repeated again if the score is low.

Scoring and interpretation

Criteria

0

1

2

Appearance

Pale or blue

Normal colour in some body parts

Normal colour all over the body

Pulse

Absent

Less than 100 pulses per minute

More than 100 pulses per minute

Grimace

Absent

Facial movement only

Coughs, sneezes and pulls away

Activity

No movement

Little movement

Active

Respiration

Absent

Slow or irregular

Normal

In a one minute test, a score of 7 and above is considered normal, 4-6 is considered fairly low and 3 and below is considered critically low. In case of critically low score, if the score remains the same at 10, 15 and 30 minute test, then the baby might need medical intervention.

A low Apgar score in a one minute test can be due to a difficult birth, C-section and fluid in the baby’s air passage. In such cases, the baby may be provided with oxygen to clear the air passage and physical stimulation can be given to make the heart beat normally.

Even though the Apgar score is used all over the world for assessing the general health of a newborn it has one major limitation ie it assesses only the physiologic maturity of the infant and not the mental condition. Moreover the score can also be influenced by factors like drugs, trauma, infection etc and the score will not hold good in case of preterm birth.

Source: Wikipedia

http://www.acog.org/