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What are APGAR scores?

The birth of a new baby is one of the most exciting events in the lives of Nevada parents. These moments can quickly turn tragic, however, if a newborn’s APGAR test reveals that he or she is suffering from health problems. This is especially heartbreaking when the infant’s injuries were preventable because they were caused by a defective product, the trauma of a car accident or physician error.

According to MedlinePlus, the APGAR test is administered by a physician, midwife or nurse after a child is born. APGAR is used to determine whether a baby should be given assistance with breathing, is having heart issues or otherwise needs medical attention.  

The test involves an examination of the child’s breathing effort, reflexes, muscle tone, heart rate and skin color. This evaluation is performed twice—once at one minute after birth, and again at five minutes after birth. For each category, a score of 0, 1 or 2 is assigned:

  •          Breathing effort – no independent breathing = 0, slow/irregular respirations = 1, good crying = 2
  •          Reflexes – no reaction = 0; grimacing = 1; grimacing with crying, coughing or sneezing = 2 
  •          Muscle tone – loose and floppy muscles = 0, some muscle tone = 1, active motion = 2
  •          Heart rate – no heartbeat = 0, heart rate lower than 100 beats per minute = 1, heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute = 2
  •          Skin color – pale blue = 0, pink body with blue extremities = 1, entire body pink = 2

Scores between 7 and 10 indicate good health. Scores lower than 7 are a sign that the baby needs medical assistance.

It should be noted that while the APGAR test is useful for determining whether an infant needs immediate help, a low score does not necessarily indicate that a child will have long-term health issues. 

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