What is the Apgar score?
The Apgar score is a simple assessment of how a baby is doing at birth, which helps determine whether your newborn is ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance. Your practitioner will do this quick evaluation one minute and five minutes after your baby is born.
This score – developed in 1952 by anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar and now used in modern hospitals worldwide – rates a baby’s appearance, pulse, responsiveness, muscle activity, and breathing with a number from 0 to 2 (2 being the strongest rating). The five numbers are then totaled.
It’s easy to remember what’s being tested by thinking of the letters in the name “Apgar”: Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration. Here’s how each is used to assess a baby’s condition at birth:
Activity (muscle tone)
0 Limp; no movement
1 Some flexion of arms and legs
2 Active motion
Pulse (heart rate)
0 No heart rate
1 Fewer than 100 beats per minute
2 At least 100 beats per minute
0 The baby’s whole body is completely bluish-gray or pale
1 Good color in body with bluish hands or feet
2 Good color all over
0 Not breathing
1 Weak cry; may sound like whimpering, slow or irregular breathing
2 Good, strong cry; normal rate and effort of breathing
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