In 1952, Dr. Virginia Apgar created a scoring system to assess newborns’ overall health during their first moments of life. Today, the Apgar test is performed by a doctor, nurse or midwife on newborns 1 and 5 minutes after birth.
The scores from the 1-minute test determine how well the baby tolerated childbirth, and the 5-minute score is meant to give insight into how the baby is doing outside of the womb. While the Apgar test is one way of measuring an infant’s health after childbirth, parents should remember when they hear these numbers that the Apgar test is not the only health assessment of a child, nor does it predict the long-term health of a child. Instead, the Apgar score is a fast way to try to understand a baby’s condition after birth.
What does the Apgar test show exactly?
The Apgar test looks at five factors to determine if a newborn is healthy. These five factors include:
- Breathing. If the baby is not breathing, a score of 0 is given. If their breaths are slow, irregular or their cry is weak, a score of 1 is given. If the baby exhibits regular respiratory capabilities demonstrated by a strong, healthy cry then a score of 2 is given.
- Heart rate. A stethoscope is used to evaluate a newborn’s heart rate. No heartbeat scores a 0. A low heart rate (less than 100 beats per minute) scores a 1, and heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute scores a 2.
- Grimace. This is a term used to measure reflexes in the infant. Usually, a soft pinch is administered by the health care professional. If there is no reaction, the baby scores a 0 for reflex irritability. If the baby grimaces or reacts, they score a 1. If there is a grimace, cough, sneeze or strong cry then the infant scores a 2.
- Skin color can reveal many things about the health of an infant. When the skin color is pale blue, a score of 0 is given. If the baby is pink and their extremities are pale blue, a score of 1 is given. If the entire body of the infant is pink, a score of 2 is given.
- Muscle tone. Loose, floppy muscles earn a 0, some muscle tone earns a 1, and if there is strong muscle tone and active motion, the infant scores a 2.
The Apgar score ranges from 1-10. A score between 7-10 is a sign that your baby is in good health, while a lower score could mean the infant needs special treatment.
If you believe your child suffered an injury at birth because of a medical error or the negligence of a healthcare professional, it’s essential to speak with a qualified childbirth injury lawyer.
Contact the Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn
At the Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn, we can help you file a medical malpractice claim to cover your child’s medical treatment, medications, and rehabilitative care. For a free consultation, call us at 718-409-5500 or contact us online today.