All You Need to Know About APGAR Test

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The APGAR score helps doctors and midwives to see the new-born baby’s health at birth. APGAR stands for ‘Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration’. Basically, five things are used to check a baby’s health on a scale of 0 to 2, 2 being the best score.

  • Appearance (skin colour)
  • Pulse (heart rate)
  • Grimace response (reflexes)
  • Activity (muscle tone)
  • Respiration (breathing rate and effort)

These five factors are added on by the doctor or the nurse. Scores are given between 10 and 0. Though 10 is the highest score only a few babies get it.

apgar test

In this article:

What is the APGAR Score?
What does Your Baby’s Score Mean?
What is a Normal Score?
What if the Baby has a Low Score?
What is the Cause of a Low APGAR Score?
Can a Low APGAR Score Indicate Medical Malpractice?

What is the APGAR Score?

This is a test given to new-borns soon after their birth. It checks the muscle tone, the baby’s heart rate, and other signs in order to check if emergency care is needed. The test is given once at 1 minute after birth and then again at 5 minutes after birth. However, the test can be given again if there are any concerns about the baby’s condition.

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ColourBluish-gray or pale all overBluish hands and/or feetPink
Heart rateNo pulseBelow 100 beats per minuteAbove 100 beats per minute
ReflexNo responseFacial movement onlyPulls away, sneezes, coughs or cries with stimulation
Muscle toneNo movementArms and legs flex with little movementActive, spontaneous movement
RespirationNo breathingSlow or irregular breathing, weak cryNormal rate and effort, a good cry

What does Your Baby’s Score Mean?

A baby is considered to be in good health if he/she scores a 7 or more. On the same side, your baby is not considered unhealthy if he gets a lower score. It may just mean that your baby is in need of extra medical care. For instance, sanctioning of the airways or oxygen to help them breathe better. Also, perfectly healthy babies can at times have a lower-than-usual score, especially in the first few minutes after their birth.

Babies who are born with following may have a slightly low score (especially at 1 minute):

The test is given again after 5 minutes. in case, the scores do not improve, the doctors and nurses will monitor the baby closely.

What is a Normal Score?

The higher the score, the better the baby is doing after birth. A normal score is that of a 7,8, or 9 and signifies that the baby is doing fine and is in good health. As stated above, a score of 10 is pretty unusual. This is mainly because almost all newborns lose 1 point for blue hands and feet, which is considered to be normal after birth.

What if the Baby has a Low Score?

Even if a baby has a low score, he/she may be perfectly healthy. They may do fine once they adjust to life outside the womb. More importantly, if the doctor is concerned about your baby’s low score, they would definitely let you know about the same. they will explain to you what is the main cause of the problem, what care may be given and how your baby is doing.

What is the Cause of a Low APGAR Score?

There can be a number of pregnancy and birth-related complications that can cause a low APGAR score. Babies who have been deprived of oxygen are often seen to be performing poorly on the APGAR test. A few of the complications that can lead the baby to be oxygen-deprived, furthermore leading to a low APGAR score are listed below:

Can a Low APGAR Score Indicate Medical Malpractice?

No, a low APGAR score does not necessarily indicate the occurrence of medical malpractice. In most of the cases, low APGAR score can be associated with a birth injury, which may have stemmed from medical malpractice. Also, in case the physicians fail to provide any proper treatment on a low APGAR score, then that may be considered negligence and if this results in any injury, it is medical malpractice.

Conclusion

The test lets health care providers know a newborn baby’s physical condition. Although some people mistakenly think of this test to let one know of the baby’s long-term health, behavior, intelligence, personality, or outcome but this is absolutely not true.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595023/

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/136/4/819

Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!

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