Saturday, 12 January 2008

What is the significance of the Apgar score?

The Apgar score was devised by Dr. Virginia Apgar and uses five clinical parameters to assess the status of a neonate immediately after birth. Each parameter is rated between 0 and 2 (according to specific criteria) to give a total score out of 10. The five parameters are:
  1. Heart rate
  2. Respiratory effort
  3. Colour (cyanosed or pink)
  4. Muscle tone
  5. Response to stimulation

Apgars are typically assessed at least at 1 and 5 minutes.

The one minute Apgar indicates whether or not the neonate requires resuscitation. (A score of 6 or less indicates this).

The five minute Apgar indicates the response to resuscitation.

If the five minute Apgar is still abnormally low, it is repeated, usually every five minutes, until it normalises (hopefully). A depressed Apgar score after five minutes indicates an increased risk of death or cerebral damage. However, it is rather inaccurate in this regard.

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