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18 August 2003

Your baby's first test

The first thing in store for your new arrival is an APGAR score. The test helps doctors and nurses to quickly evaluate the condition of a newborn.

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The first thing in store for your new arrival is an APGAR score. Dr Virginia Apgar, a noted anaesthesiologist, developed the APGAR scale and testing methods in the 1950's. The test helps doctors and nurses to quickly evaluate the condition of a newborn. It is a simple yet very effective method to measure the health of a baby and determine if your baby needs any treatment.

The test is administered and recorded at one minute after delivery and again at five minutes after delivery.

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SIGN POINTS
  0 1 2
Appearance (colour) Pale or blue Body pink, extremities blue Pink –showing that the baby is getting enough oxygen
Pulse – to determine if the heartbeat is strong and regular Not detectable Below 100 Over 100
Grimace or response to stimulation No response to stimulation Grimace Lusty cry
Activity or muscle tone – check for moving limbs to show tone and health of muscles Flaccid (no or weak activity) Some movement of extremities A lot of activity
Respiration (crying and breathing) – to show the health of the lungs None Slow, irregular Good

Each vital sign is given a score of 0, 1 or 2 and the end results are totalled. Babies scoring between seven and ten at one minute are considered to be in excellent condition and require only routine post-delivery care. A score between four and six is considered to be in fair condition and may require some help breathing where a nurse or paediatrician may administer oxygen under the baby's nose or may flick the baby’s feet with a finger. A baby whose score is under four is considered to be in very poor condition and will require active resuscitation.

The APGAR score is easily performed and provides a quick measure of your baby’s health during those first important and precious moments of life outside of the womb.

Other procedures performed on your baby after birth include a measurement of length and weight and a vitamin K injection which assists in blood-clotting and prevents excessive neo-natal bleeding.

BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccination is given soon after birth to protect against tuberculous meningitis. It is given by injection on the right upper arm.

 
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