Understanding the Apgar Score

Your baby receives an Apgar score at one minute and at 5 minutes after birth.  This score determines how doctors will treat your baby from that moment on to ensure that he gets the best medical care possible.

The higher the score out of a possible 10, the better is your baby’s general health condition. The score usually changes from the first to the second rating.  Doctors look at the following:

Appearance/ Color :

  • 0 = blue or pale
  • 1 = body is pink, limbs are blue
  • 2 = completely pink

Respiratory Effort:

  • 0 = absent
  • 1 = slow, irregular, weak cry
  • 2 = strong cry

Heart Rate:

  • 0 = absent
  • 1 = slow, less than 100
  • 2 = over 100

Muscle Tone:

  • 0 = limp
  • 1 = some bending of the limbs
  • 2 = active movement

Reflex Response to Flicking Foot:

  • 0 = absent
  • 1 = facial grimace
  • 2 = cry

A baby who scores 7 or higher on the first scoring is considered in good health. A low score however is not necessarily an indication that your baby is unhealthy, it may just indicate that he needs some immediate special care, for example suctioning. The majority of babies score 7 or higher at the 5 minute scoring.

Remember this scoring is no indication of your baby’s long term health.  It is just a tool for doctors to decide how to treat your baby.

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