Apgar is your baby’s first test

Bringing a baby into the world is a joyous time for most North Carolina families. While the birthing process goes smoothly for the vast majority of newborns, there are occasional complications that can be detrimental to the child and result in life-long conditions. At The Melvin Law Firm, we have experience representing clients whose child sustained an injury at birth.

According to MedlinePlus, the doctor, midwife or another member of the delivery team performs an Apgar test on a baby at approximately one minute and five minutes after birth. At one minute after birth, the test measures how well the child tolerated the process of being born. Based on a score of one to ten, the higher the number, the better the child withstood the procedure.

There are five categories of the baby’s observed condition tested. Each can have a score of zero, one or two.

  • The respiratory score is zero if the infant is not breathing, one if the breath is irregular, two if the child cries well.
  • The basis for the grimace or reflex is stimulus such as a pinch. No response receives a zero. A flinch or grimace receive a one. If a cry, cough or sneeze accompanies the flinch, the child gets a two.
  • Heart rate measurement requires a stethoscope. If there is no heartbeat, the score is zero, for less than 100 beats a minute the rating is one. The child receives a two if the heart rate is greater than 100 beats a minute.
  • Muscle tone score is zero if muscles are floppy or loose. Some muscle tone gets a one and if there is active motion, the child gets two points.
  • Skin color indicates oxygen levels. If the overall skin tone is pale blue, the child scores zero. When only extremities are blue, the score is one. If the entire body is pink, the infant scores two.

A score of seven to ten is normal, indicating the newborn is healthy and doing well. The baby may need additional medical attention for lower scores. While the Apgar does not indicate long-term health issues, it does signal that the birth may have been stressful or that an injury occurred. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.

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