Your baby’s first medical test takes place when they are just 1 minute old. This test is called the APGAR test and is repeated when your baby is 5 minutes old and again when they are 10 minutes old. Here we reveal what the APGAR test is and why it is so important.
What is the APGAR test?
The APGAR test is a non-invasive post-natal examination that is carried out within the first 1-10 minutes of your baby’s life. The test helps your midwife and /or paediatrician to assess how well your baby is adapting to being outside of the womb and will help your medical team to determine whether your baby may need any immediate medical attention or emergency care.
What does the APGAR test examine?
The APGAR test or scoring system is based on five key criteria that are easily remembered using the test acronym, APGAR
Appearance: skin colour
- Pulse: heart rate
- Grimace: reflexes
- Activity and muscle tone
- Respiration: breathing rate and effort
The midwife (or paediatrician if required) will monitor the baby’s skin colour, pulse, grimace, activity and their respiration thereby assessing the baby’s adaptation to life outside the womb explains Regina Curran, Hypnotherapist at The Portland Hospital. The results of the five criteria are then use to determine an APGAR score.
What do the results mean?
For the majority of children an APGAR score will range between 7 to 10 meaning that they only need routine neonatal care. Those who have a lower score will be assessed by a paediatrician. There are a number of reasons why the scores may be initially low but with appropriate medical care most babies do well and the test does not predetermine your child’s risk of future health.
What happens next?
Here at The Portland Hospital once your baby is born your Midwife will arrange for your baby to be seen by a Consultant Paediatrician who will assess your baby’s overall health in more detail –within 24 hours but usually much sooner. During this assessment they will check for signs of infection and jaundice and will also make sure your baby has passed their first urine and stool (meconium) before leaving the hospital. Additional tests that your baby may then undergo at The Portland Hospital before you are discharged from include a hearing screening assessment (usually carried out within the first 24-48 hours after their birth) and if your baby was born in the breech presentation they may have to undergo a routine ultrasound to examine their hips.
Where can I go for further information?
For more information on neonatal tests please contact The Portland Hospital maternity services enquiry line on 020 7390 6068 and speak to an advisor.