What is the APGAR score?
Everything you need to know about the first test your baby undergoes after birth.

Newborn baby
Source: Shutterstock

Minutes after your baby is born, he will already have to complete his first of many tests in life. This test is called the APGAR test which aims to evaluate a baby’s condition and detect possible problems.

Virginia Apgar devised this scoring system in 1953. It is now standard practice in most hospitals. The test is taken at 1 minute and again at 5 minutes after the baby’s birth.

What APGAR means

Each part of the APGAR test is assigned different scores. Below we explain each sign and the points they are scored.

A score of 7 or more is considered normal. Scores below 7 generally show that some bodily processes are not functioning fully, and need to be observed. A score of 4 or less requires immediate emergency measures.

Appearance (or skin colour)

Pale or blue - score of 0
Pink body and blue extremities - score of 1
Pink and healthy - score of 2

Pulse (or strength of heartbeat)

Not detectable/no heartbeat - score of 0
Below 100 beats per minute - score of 1
Normal/above 100 beats per minute - score of 2

Grimace (or response to stimulation)

No response to stimulation - score of 0
Grimace/facial movement only - score of 1
Lusty cry, pulls away, sneezes, coughs etc - score of 2

Activity (or muscle tone)

Flaccid, weak or no activity - score of 0
Some movement of extremities - score of 1
A lot of activity - score of 2

Respiration (or breathing)

No breathing detected - score of 0
Slow or irregular breathing - score of 1
Strong breathing and crying - score of 2

Did you know what the APGAR score meant?

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