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Monday, October 17, 2011


As soon as your baby is born, a delivery nurse will set one timer for one minute and another for five minutes. When each of these time period is up, a nurse of physician will give your baby her first "tests," called APGARS.

This scoring system helps the physician estimate your baby's general condition at birth. The test measures your baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. It cannot predict how healthy she will be as she grows up or how she will develop; nor does it indicate how bright she is or what her responsibility is like. But it does alert the hospital staff if she is sleepier or slower to respond than normal and may be in need of assistance as she adapts to her new world outside the womb.

Each characteristics is given an individual score; then all scores are totaled. For example, let's say your baby has a heart rate of more than 100, cries lustily, most actively, grimaces and coughs in response to the syringe, but is blue; her one-minute Apgar score would be 8.

If your baby's Apgar scores are between 5 and 7 at one minute, she may have experienced some problems during birth which lowered the oxygen in her blood. In this case, the staff will probably dry her vigorously with a towel while oxygen is held under her nose. This should start her breathing deeply and improve her oxygen supply so that her five-minute Apgar scores total between 8 and 10.

A small percentage of newborns have Apgar scores of less than 5. For example, babies prematurely or delivered by C-section are more likely to have low scores than infants with normal births. These scores may reflect difficulties the baby experienced during labor, or problems with her heart or respiratory system.

If your baby's Apgar scores are very low, a mask may be placed over her face to pump oxygen directly into her lungs. If she's not breathing on her own within a few minutes, a tube can be placed into her windpipe, and fluid and medications may be administered through one of the blood vessels in her umbilical cord to strengthen her heartbeat. If her Apgar scores are still low after these treatments, she will be taken to the special-care nursery for more intensive medical attention.

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