So, the question is what are APGAR scores? In this voice chat we will discuss APGAR scores. This video is a follow-up of a previous video that was brought to our attention which explains the potential signs of a traumatic brain injury immediately after birth. Video focused on an HIE injury at birth.

For some families who have requested their medical records following labor and delivery, they may have seen the term APGAR with numbers mentioned subsequently. We will discuss how in some instances APGAR scores can be very helpful but also warn of their limitations.

What Are APGAR Scores?

An APGAR score is a test that is given to newborn babies at birth. The scoring looks to a newborn baby’s condition immediately following birth. In addition, the scoring is done for a standardized assessment of the baby. The tests can be given during multiple time periods and when performed, the testing is generally done at the 1 minute mark and 5 minute mark. In some instances, a third test may be performed at the 9 or 10 minute mark.

Generally, APGAR scoring will be performed by the nurse or medical professional at the bedside following delivery. These medical professionals will perform the test by analyzing the baby following labor and delivery.

An APGAR score of less than 5 after the 5, or 10 minute mark may suggest that there is a increased relative risk of cerebral palsy. With that said, many babies who have low APGAR scores will not necessarily move to a CP diagnosis. If the APGAR score at the 5 minute mark is 7 or greater, there is an increased chance that hypoxic-ischemic injury is not present in the baby.

Limitations Of APGAR Scoring…

Although APGAR scores can be useful, especially in setting standardized assessments of newborns, the scoring does have limitations. One of the biggest limitations is that the testing is based on a subjective assessment of the medical professional. Two professionals assessing the same newborn might give different scoring based on the same birthing picture.

Secondly, APGAR scores are just a snapshot in time of the newborn. As we know, babies can change over time and the APGAR score is just one moment in time. Also, as noted by ACOG, “The healthy preterm infant with no evidence of asphyxia may receive a low score only because of immaturity.”

Although APGAR scoring can be very useful in assessing a newborn, we have to be sure to understand the limitations the scoring can present.

Thanks for reading from your friends at HIE Resource Place.