The significance of the Newborn (Apgar) Scoring System

In ancient days, midwives evaluated newborn babies by measuring their “breathing time” and “crying time”. It was considered important as it provided the baby’s health status at birth. However, with time this practice has been outdone by a modern Scoring System called Apgar Score. 

Apgar Score is a modern system used in medical facilities to judge a newborn baby’s condition quickly and more accurately, shortly after birth.  

What Is Tested

Apgar stands for the five areas that are examined, “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration“.  In simplified terms, the doctors are set to find out what your baby’s skin color is, their heart rate, response (reflex), muscle tone and their breathing rate/effort.  

Understanding of The Scores of Your Baby

Your newborn baby’s scores are taken within the 1st and 5th minute of its life. The scores range between 0–10, with ten being the highest, and rarely reached because most babies feet and hands remain blue until they are warmed up. 

A healthy score is, therefore, a 7 or above, lower scores do not necessarily mean that your baby is unhealthy. It only means that he/she will need medical attention immediately. The standard evaluating table is as, 0 – 3 (critically low), 4 – 6 (slightly lower than normal), and above 7 is a normal birth.

Should I Worry About a Low Score

Yes and no. Sometimes healthier babies get lower scores during the first few minutes after birth, this is normally concluded once further tests are done by the health care providers. 

Expectant mothers that go through high-risk pregnancies, prolonged complicated labour, premature births, errors/delays during C-Section, infections and umbilical cord problems normally get low scores for their newborns. 

Is, Apgar Score Necessary for Every New Birth

If our great-grandparents believed in examining every newborn, then Apgar score has made it easier and a lot faster. In most cases, doing the tests provides an opportunity to get fast medical interventions like neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), resuscitations and hypothermia therapy.  

Reflection and Advice 

The test does not in any way predict your child’s intelligence, future behaviour or health, it only demonstrates their physical health at that moment, allowing the health care provider to know if the child needs further medical care.  

A 1-5 minute observation cannot overrule a nine months observation by the gynaecologist. Make sure to follow up with your child’s pediatric at all times. 


#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: ncbi.nlm.nih, wikipedia, abclawcenters

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