APGAR: Your baby's first test

Life is tough. Minutes after your baby is born, he will already have to complete his first of many tests in life. This test is called the Apgar test which aims to evaluate a baby’s condition and detect possible problems.

Virginia Apgar devised this scoring system in 1953. It is now standard practice in most hospitals. The test is taken at 1 minute and again at 5 minutes after the baby’s birth.

What does the test entail?
Sign: (points in brackets)

Appearance (colour):
  • Pale or blue (0)
  • Body pink, extremities blue (1)
  • Pink (2)

Pulse (heartbeat):
  • Not detectible (0)
  • Below 100 (1)
  • Over 100 (2)

Grimace (reflex irritability):
  • No response to stimulation (0)
  • Grimace (1)
  • Lusty cry (2)
Activity (muscle tone):
  • Flaccid (no or weak activity) (0)
  • Some movement of extremities (1)
  • A lot of activity (2)
Respiration (breathing):
  • None (0)
  • Slow, irregular (1)
  • Good (crying) (2)


  • A score of 7 or more is considered normal.
  • Scores below 7 generally show that some bodily processes are not functioning fully, and need to be observed.
  • A score of 4 or less requires immediate emergency measures.
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