The Apgar score is a quick evaluation method used by medical professionals to assess the physical condition of a newborn immediately after birth. It measures five categories: heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. Scores range from 0 to 10, with 10 indicating the best possible condition.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Apgar score is a quick test performed on a baby at 1 and 5 minutes after birth. It is a simple and effective method to quickly evaluate a newborn’s physical condition, and to determine any immediate need for extra medical or emergency care.
  2. The Apgar test focuses on five key areas: Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration (breathing rate and effort). Each area is scored between 0 to 2, so the maximum total score is 10.
  3. A score of 7 or above is generally considered normal. If a baby receives a score lower than 7, it doesn’t necessarily mean the child won’t be healthy, but it indicates that the baby may require some immediate medical attention.


The Apgar score is a critical evaluation tool utilized immediately after childbirth to assess the newborn’s physical condition and determine any urgent need for medical attention. It is important because it helps the medical team quickly understand the health status of the baby.

Named after Dr. Virginia Apgar, the test is conducted at one and five minutes after birth, assessing five key areas: heart rate, respiratory effort, muscle tone, reflex irritability, and skin color.

Each category is scored from zero to two, with a perfect score being ten, which indicates the newborn is in the best possible condition. A lower score signifies the baby may require immediate medical care.

Thus, the Apgar score plays an essential role in ensuring the immediate health and long-term wellbeing of newborns.


The Apgar score serves a critical purpose in assessing the general health and well-being of a newborn immediately after delivery and again a few minutes later. It is an initial screening tool developed by Dr.

Virginia Apgar in 1952, used to evaluate the immediate physical condition of the newborn and to determine any urgent need for extra medical or emergency care. This score helps gauge how well the baby tolerated the birthing process and how well the infant is adapting to life outside the womb.

It is a critical step in ensuring that the newborn receives the appropriate healthcare attention they require following birth. The Apgar score is determined based on five components: appearance (skin color), pulse (heart rate), grimace (reflex response), activity (muscle tone), and respiration (breathing rate and effort). Each indicator is rated with 0, 1, or 2, giving a total score ranging from 0 to 10.

The scoring assists in identifying babies who may be in distress or need additional medical attention, thus it provides a standardized practice to determine the immediate wellness of every newborn. It is important to understand that the Apgar score is just an initial assessment, not a predictor of long-term health issues or chronic conditions in a child’s future.

Examples of Apgar score

Case 1: Immediately after Ms. Johnson gave birth to her baby girl, the neonatal staff rushed in and began to evaluate the newborn. They quickly assessed the baby’s color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and respiration over the next five minutes, which is otherwise known as the Apgar scoring. The baby scored an 8, indicating she was in good health.

Case 2: In case of a home birth attended by a midwife, after Mrs. Smith delivered her baby boy, the midwife administered the Apgar score test. She assessed the baby’s appearance (skin color), pulse, grimace (reflex response), activity (muscle tone) and respiration (breathing rate and effort) giving him a score of out of 2 for each. The baby had a good heart rate and breathing, but his extremities were somewhat bluish and his reactions a bit slow. His overall Apgar score was 7, indicating that some medical attention was needed but not immediate.

Case 3: In a hospital located in an urban area, a baby was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation. Immediately after the delivery, owing to the challenging condition of the baby, the doctor performed an Apgar scoring. The first score at 1 minute was rather low due to low heart rate and struggle with breathing – it was only

But with the immediate medical assistance, at the 5 minute mark, the baby’s Apgar score had risen to

This showed that the infant’s condition had improved significantly with medical intervention.

FAQs about Apgar Score

What is an Apgar score?

An Apgar score is a quick test performed on a baby at 1 and 5 minutes after birth. The scores range from 0 to 10. The higher the score, the better the baby is doing after birth.

How is Apgar score calculated?

Apgar score is calculated based on five factors: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration. Each factor is given a score between 0 to 2, then added together to find the total Apgar score.

What does a high Apgar score mean?

A high Apgar score (7 or above) is a good sign that the baby is in good health. It indicates that the baby did not have any immediate problems following birth and is adjusting well to life outside the womb.

What does a low Apgar score mean?

A low Apgar score (less than 7) could indicate that the baby needs medical assistance. In some cases, a low score could also be due to factors such as premature birth, a difficult birth, or the baby needing some form of resuscitation at birth.

Can the Apgar score predict long-term health issues?

While the Apgar score is a valuable tool to assess the newborn’s immediate physical condition, it’s not predictive of long-term health issues or developmental problems. Repeated low scores could stimulate further medical investigations, but does not necessarily imply long-term consequences.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Neonatal Resuscitation
  • Birth Asphyxia
  • Vital Signs at Birth
  • Neonatal Assessment
  • Infant Health Screening

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization committed to clinical practice, education, and research, providing expert care to everyone who needs healing.
  • WebMD – This trusted source for health information provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information.
  • MedlinePlus – MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world’s largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • World Health Organization (WHO) – WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. It is a reliable source for health-related statistics and information around the world.