What is the APGAR Score?

The APGAR score is a way of assessing  how a newborn baby is doing immediately after birth.  It was developed by Virginia Apgar in 1952.  Today the acronym of Dr. Apgar’s last name stands for the five things we check in the newborn baby: A (appearance or color), P (pulse or heart rate), G (grimace or cry), A (activity), and R (respirations).  They are scored from 0-2 in each category at 1 minute of life and 5 minutes of life.  It tell us that babies who have lower initial scores tend to need more help at birth, and can help determine the effectiveness of resuscitation.

A typical score for most healthy newborns is 8 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes.  Sometimes the initial score is low because the baby is a little stunned at birth, but most babies will rebound at 5 minutes and have a normal score.

The APGAR score is NOT used to predict anything about the baby’s future potential regarding intelligence, health or development.  So don’t worry if your baby did not get 10’s!!

By Kenneth Branstetter, MD, pediatrician, ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Neenah.