Apgar index, what it is and what it evaluates

The Apgar index is a system used by pediatricians and gynecologists to evaluate the health of the newborn immediately after birth. It helps medical personnel decide if the baby needs emergency medical attention primarily to reduce the risk of stillbirth. It is made standard all over the world.

What is the Apgar index and what does it evaluate

The Apgar index is a measure of a baby’s health condition after birth that guides doctors and nurses as to the need for immediate treatment or monitoring.

What does the Apgar index measure?

This index makes it possible to reduce the risk of not providing immediate care to a newborn who urgently needs it immediately after birth. Performed in the delivery room – by a pediatrician or gynecologist – 1 and 5 minutes after birth, the Apgar index takes its name from Dr. Virginia Apgar, but it is also an acronym for:

  • Appearance: appearance, skin color;
  • Pulse: heart rate;
  • Grimace: reflexes and reactivity to stimuli;
  • Activity: activity and muscle tone;
  • Respiration/Respiratory effort: respiration, respiratory rate and respiratory effort;

What do Apgar scores below 10 mean?

Each parameter – A, P, G, A and R – is scored from 0 to 2, with 2 being the desirable score. A perfectly healthy boy or girl will have a total score of 10.

An index of 7 or more is normal. An index of 6 or less at 1 minute and an index of 7 or more at 5 minutes is also normal. However, an index below 7 in the second evaluation – the 5-minute one – is considered low.

If your baby’s index was low on the first Apgar test and hasn’t improved on the second 5-minute test, or there are other concerns, doctors and nurses will monitor your baby closely and initiate any necessary medical care.

What if the child scores low on the Apgar test?

A low Apgar index warns doctors to check your child for problems such as breathing difficulties. This helps ensure that your child gets medical attention when it’s needed.

The Apgar index is just one piece of information that doctors and nurses have. He is a guide, but only a guide. That doesn’t mean there will be problems later in life. It does not predict the long-term development of the child.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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