Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

Newborn Care

List of Articles

  • The Apgar Score
    The purpose of this document is to place the Apgar score in its proper perspective. The Apgar score describes the condition of newborn infant immediately after birth, and when properly applied, it is a tool for standardized assessment. It also provides a mechanism to record fetal-to-neonatal transition. Apgar scores do not predict individual mortality or adverse neurologic outcome. However, based on population studies, Apgar scores of less than 5 at 5-minutes and 10-minutes clearly confer an increased relative risk of cerebral palsy, and the degree of abnormality correlates with the risk of cerebral palsy. Most infants with low Apgar score, however, will not develop cerebral palsy. The Apgar score is affected by many factors, including gestational age, maternal medications, resuscitation, and cardiorespiratory and neurologic conditions. If the Apgar score at 5- minutes is 7 or greater, it is unlikely that peripartum hypoxia-ischemia caused neonatal encephalopathy. The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) guidelines, Apgar score and subsequent neurological dysfunctions are also discussed. The review also examines the occurrence of 5-minute Apgar score of 0 and seizures or serious neurologic dysfunctions. Perinatal asphyxia is a major cause of neurologic sequelae in term newborns. Apgar score is useful for conveying information about the newborn’s overall status and response to resuscitation. However, resuscitation must be initiated, if needed, before the 1-minute score is assigned. Therefore, Apgar score is not used to determine whether the need for initial resuscitation steps are necessary, or when to use them.

  • Newborn Care: Initial Assessment & Resuscitation
    Approximately 10% of term and late-preterm infants require some assistance to begin breathing that includes stimulation at birth; less than 1% will need extensive resuscitative measures. Although the vast majority do not require intervention to make the transition from intrauterine to extrauterine life, because of the large total number of births a sizable number of babies will require some degree of resuscitation. Recognition and immediate resuscitation of a distressed newborn infant requires an organized plan of action that includes the immediate availability of proper equipment and on-site qualified personnel. Anticipated newborn problems should be thoroughly communicated by the obstetric care provider to the responsible lead member of the resuscitation team. Assessment and resuscitation of the infant at delivery should be provided in accordance with the principles of guidelines for neonatal resuscitation. Most of the principles are applicable throughout the neonatal period and early infancy. Each hospital should have policies and procedures addressing the care and resuscitation of the newborn infant, including the qualifications of physicians and other health care practitioners who provide this care. The Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) with its partners has launched the series on Newborn Care to disseminate updated literature and guidelines to health care providers regarding newborn care and safety. Current guidelines are summarized in this section.

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