Apgar score

The Apgar score is named after anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar who devised it. It is a neonatl assessment tool used to score a newborn’s vitality.

A score near zero indicates severe distress (Potter and Perry)

A high score indicates a smooth transition to extrauterine life.

This neonatal assessment scores the following:

  • heart and breathing rate
  • skin colour
  • muscle tone
  • reflex response.

The mneumonic:

  • Appearance (skin colour)
  • Pulse (heart rate)
  • Grimace (responsiveness to stimuli, usually in response to nasal and oropharyngeal suction catheter used to clear the airway)
  • Activity (muscle tone)
  • Respiration (rate and depth of breathing)

This test is initiated at birth, then repeated 1 minute after birth, 5 minutes after birth and continues as needed until the infant is stable. (Albertine, 2001 and Perry, 2006)

Perry, A, G, Potter, P, A, Ross-Kerr, J, C and Wood, M, J. 2006. Canadian fundamentals of nursing. 3rded. Toronto: Elselvier


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