Every time a baby is born he or she is looked over and given an test score. Doctors call this the APGAR test, which was designed by Dr. Virginia Apgar in 1952. APGAR is short for:

  • Appearance
    • Skin color is checked for blue or pink tones
  • Pulse
    • Best score is a heart rate above 100 beats per minute
  • Grimace response (reflex)
    • Tests the newborn’s reflex response to being stimulated with something like a slight pinch
  • Activity and muscle tone
    • Looks for how active the newborn is being
  • Respiration
    • Looking to make sure the infant is crying well

The test is performed at 1 min post birth to determine how well the baby did with the birthing process. The test is done again at 5 min post birth is to tell how well the baby is doing outside the womb.

Each category is given a score of 0, 1 or 2. These scores help determine if a baby needs additional care including needing additional help breathing or has an issue with their heart. Any score of 7 or above is normal and considers the newborn in good health.

Anything below 7 determines that the newborn needs medical attention. This could be caused by a c-section, a difficult birth, or fluid in the baby’s airway. Health care professionals may provide oxygen and/or suction out their airway or provide some additional stimulation to improve the heart rate.

In rare cases the test may be performed again at 10 min post birth. It is also very unlikely for a newborn to get a score of 10 as it is very normal for a baby’s extremities to be pale blue in color.