The APGAR Test
Revealing the mystery of this acronym, which is now a routine part of newborn screenings.
What do the scores mean?
A perfect APGAR score of 10 means an infant is in the best possible condition. “Very few midwives will give 10 for the first assessment at one minute because there is always a degree of the circulation adjusting,” says independent midwife Clare Winter. According to the American Pregnancy Association, a one-minute score of between seven and 10 indicates that the baby will need only routine post-delivery care, while scores between four and six indicate assistance may be required for breathing. Scores under four may call for prompt lifesaving measures.
At the five-minute mark, a score of seven to 10 is normal. If the score falls below seven, the baby will continue to be monitored and evaluated. A persistently low score gives doctors a warning signal that they should check the baby for hidden health problems, such as breathing difficulties or internal bleeding, and allows them to give the baby crucial medical attention when it is most needed.
While the APGAR score is helpful in assessing a baby’s health, it does have limits. Parents should keep in mind that lower than normal scores do not mean there will be permanent problems for the baby, nor does the score predict the baby’s future intellect, temperament, or physical capabilities.
How do I find out my baby’s APGAR score?
Whether the APGAR score is revealed to parents may depend on both the hospital’s policy and country in which the baby is born. In many countries, parents are not told their infant’s APGAR score unless they ask, while in others, such as New Zealand, parents are always told the score and it is part of the documentation new parents receive with their child’s health information. Parents can include learning the APGAR score in their birth plans and/or ask the doctor or midwife for the information after delivery.
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