Understanding the Apgar test

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Understanding the Apgar test
Understanding the Apgar test

At the hospital or birthing center, after you give birth, your baby will be tested. Already? Oh yes! This is the Apgar test: an index of the condition of the newborn.


Indeed, the Apgar test is the simple and effective observation method that is used to measure the he alth of the newborn baby. This determines whether your baby needs special assistance or rapid intervention. It was proposed for the first time in 1952 by the American doctor Virginia Apgar, during a congress of anesthesiologists.

How does it work?

In addition to being quick and painless, the method is reassuring. You may not even realize that your baby is being assessed! In fact, by observing specific factors, the medical team will give your child a score out of 10. Fortunately, most babies are declared he althy, but if your newborn needs medical attention, thanks to the test 'Apgar, you'll know right away.

The Apgar test evaluates five different states of your baby, at 1 minute after birth, then at 5 minutes of life. Each of these states is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, and the results are then added together to give ascore out of 10.


Here are the 5 factors that we observe to calculate the Apgar index:

Skin color

  • blue all over – 0 points
  • white on the ends and pink on the body – 1 point
  • all pink – 2 points


  • out – 0 points
  • slow – 1 point
  • quick – 2 dots


  • no response: 0 points
  • reacts to stimulation: 1 point
  • crying and coughing: 2 points

Muscle Tone

  • soft: 0 points
  • some bending or stretching: 1 point
  • active movements: 2 points


  • absent: 0 points
  • weak or irregular: 1 point
  • good and your baby is crying: 2 points

What do these results mean?

In general, babies get a score of 7 to 10, which means that they do not need immediate care: he is adapting normally to extra-uterine life. Sure, parents like to hear that their child got a 10, but an 8 or 9 is also very, very good!

Children with a score between 8 and 10 are therefore considered to be in perfect he alth and only need routine care. A score between 5 and 7 is representative of fair condition. Often this means that the child suffered during childbirth and probably needs breathing assistance. First, your doctor will rubyour baby's skin or give him oxygen using a mask.

When the result is below 5, the situation is more alarming. A pediatrician will come quickly to take care of your baby and provide him with the appropriate care.


An almost 100% reliable test

The results of the Apgar test are generally very reliable: they show the condition of your baby at birth. Thanks to them, it is possible to react quickly: that is to say that they can save lives! That being said, a difficult delivery, premature birth or taking painkillers can distort the results a little. Under these conditions, the Apgar may not always portray your baby's true condition.

Do you have to worry about it in the long term

It is not because the Apgar score is bad that your child will not develop normally: this score has no value in the long term. That said, some have claimed the opposite, and you might read that newborns whose score remains low at the 5e minute of life have a greater chance of developing neurological disorders. However, recent studies have proven this theory entirely wrong.

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