Apgar scores

Apgar scores — a quick evaluation of a newborn baby's health — are noted at one minute and five minutes after birth. Developed in 1952 by anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar, this test rates newborns on five criteria: color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiration.

Each of these criteria is given an individual score of zero, one or two. Then all scores are totaled for a maximum possible score of 10. Higher scores indicate the healthier infants, while scores below 5 mean an infant needs help at birth.

Today, many doctors downplay the significance of Apgar scores because most babies with lower scores ultimately turn out to be perfectly healthy.

Other checks and measurements

Soon after birth, your newborn's weight, length and head circumference can be measured. Your baby's temperature can be taken, and breathing and heart rate can be measured. Then, usually within 12 hours of your baby's birth, a physical exam is conducted to detect any problems or abnormalities.

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