Born on 7th June 1909 in New Jersey, United States, Dr. Virginia Apgar is one of the most renowned doctor, obstetrical and anesthesiologist who was the inventor of the Apgar score which was considered the most unique and important invention for the newborn. The Apgar score was developed by her in the year 1952 in order to quantify the effects of obstetric anesthesia on babies. She is known for her work in the fields of anaesthesiology and teratology, a field related to anesthesia which is loss of sensation, anesthetics and the study of abnormalities of psychological development in newborn babies.
In her honor and on her 109th birth anniversary the search giant Google honored her with a Google doodle. In the Doodle an animation of the doctor is shown taking notes of the babies whose responses are different as per the Apgar score.
The Apgar score is a method to quickly determine the health and body functions of newborn babies. The functions included the measuring of heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes and skin color of the newborn. The test is done under 60 seconds and five minutes after birth whether the newborn needs any additional help to sustain life. The Apgar scale is determined by evaluating the newborn baby on five simple criteria on a scale from 0 to 2, then summing up the five values thus obtained. The resulting Apgar score ranges from 0 to 10. The five criteria identified are Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration. The test is done under one to five minutes of a child’s birth and may be repeated if the scores are low. On the scale of 0 to 10, a score of 7 and above are considered as normal scores, a score of 4 to 6 is considered fairly low and a score of 3 and below are considered critical.
Born to a insurance executive, inventor and astronomer she was the youngest of the three children. Severe health problems in her family inclined her interest towards the fields of zoology, medicine, chemistry and physiology. She attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and in 1933 she obtained a medical degree. In her field as a doctor she witnessed many birth defects which led her to develop the Apgar score. And after the invention of her Apgar score the mortality rate in the newborn babies declined on an astounding rate, as the mortality rate of newborn babies in the United States dropped from 1 in 30 in the 1950s to 1 in 500 today.
After becoming a leading figure in the fields of anesthesiology and teratology as attending anesthesiologist at Presbyterian Hospital, she assisted in the delivery of close to 20,000 babies. And since its invention in 1952 the Apgar score has saved the lives of countless newborn babies worldwide and hopefully it will continue to do so for years to come.