Your baby's first exam in life that
she needs to pass with flying colours is the Apgar Test. Developed by Virginia
Apgar, an anesthesiologist, it is performed one minute after birth and
then repeated after five minutes. Dr. Apgar has identified certain critical
signs that are measured and rated immediately after birth. The results
reflect the baby's general condition and help the doctors to determine
the nature of the baby's post-delivery care.
The rating scale
The baby is rated on a scale of zero to two on the following five signs:
Appearance: If the baby is pink all over, she will get the maximum score of 2. If the body is pink with the exception of the arms and legs, which are blue, the baby will score 1. She will get a minimum score of 0, if her body is blue all over.
Pulse: The baby scores 2 if her pulse rate is above 100 beats a minute. If her pulse rate is below 100, she will score 1 and if it not detectable, she will score 0.
Reflex irritability: The doctor will slap the baby on the soles of her feet. If she cries lustily in response, she will score 2. A grimace or slight cry will get her a score of 1. If she does not respond at all, she will score 0.
Activity: A baby that flails its arms and legs or otherwise displays a lot of activity at birth scores a two in this category. If the baby moves her limbs slightly, she will receive a score of 1. If the baby is limp and flaccid, and shows no activity, she will score 0.
Breathing: Strong efforts
to breathe, accompanied by crying are a sign that the baby's lungs are
in good working order. She will receive a score of 2. Slow, irregular breathing
rates a 1. No respiration gets the lowest score of 0.
What the scores mean
The baby's scores in these five categories
are added up to give the Apgar score. (The maximum score is 10). It has
been observed that most babies score between 7 and 10 points one minute
after birth, indicating that the baby is generally in good health and will
require only routine post-deliver care. Babies who score between 4 and
6 are in fair condition, though they may require help to breathe. They
may be put on oxygen or if there is mucus in the throat it will have to
be removed to prevent any obstruction in the baby' breathing. Those babies
that have a total score below 4 are normally pale, limp and unresponsive.
They will require immediate life-saving efforts. The baby's lungs will
have to be externally inflated and the throat will have to be suctioned
to clear the air passage. Such babies will have to be closely monitored
in the intensive care until their bodies take over and they can wing it
on their own.
The five minute score
The Apgar test is repeated after
five minutes. While the one-minute score is an indication to doctors as
to the nature of the immediate care required post-delivery, the five minute
score was thought to be a good predictor of the baby's survival and development
in early infancy.
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