The Apgar score is a number that is given by doctors or midwives to a baby immediately after birth, and again five minutes later. The score gives a rough assessment of the baby’s general health. The name is taken from Dr Virginia Apgar, an American anaesthetist, who devised the system in 1953. The score is derived by giving a value of 0, 1 or 2 to each of five variables – heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes and colour. The maximum score is 10.
|Heart Rate||Absent||Below 100||Above 100|
|Colour||Blue/pale||Blue hands and feet||Pink|
When estimated at birth, a baby is considered to be seriously distressed if the Apgar score is 5, and critical if the score is 3, when urgent resuscitation is necessary. The situation becomes critical if the score remains below 5 at five minutes after birth. A score of 7 or above is considered normal.