Apgar scores

Apgar scores are measurements and observations made by a health professional at 1 and 5 minutes after birth to assess a newborn's health.

The health professional checks 5 areas and gives the newborn a score ranging from 0 to 2 in each of the 5 areas. With 2 being the highest number a baby can get in each area, when the scores are added up, the maximum score is 10. A total score of 7 to 10 is normal.

The 5 areas checked include the newborn's:

  • Heart rate.
  • Skin color.
  • Muscle tone (judged by whether the newborn's arms and legs are flexed or limp).
  • Breathing.
  • Reflex irritability (judged by whether the newborn cries or reacts when the skin is stroked or touched).

Last Updated: March 19, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology

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