Health

Meet The Woman Behind The Apgar Test That’s Performed On Babies At Birth

If you've given birth at a hospital, chances are you're familiar with this test that's now performed on all newborns.

Nearly every parent is familiar with the Apgar test, the medical screen used on babies born in a hospital.

A nurse, doctor or midwife checks the baby for important signs like skin color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and breathing and the baby is given an Apgar score between 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest. The test, given at one and five minutes after birth, is used to determine if the baby requires special medical attention.

The Apgar test has saved the lives of countless newborns, yet many people do not realize that it is actually named after the woman who invented it: Dr. Virginia Apgar. In 1952, Dr. Apgar created the testing criteria that is still used on nearly every baby born in America. For almost 65 years, her medical knowledge has helped guide modern medical staff as they work to ensure the health and well-being of their tiniest patients.

Before Apgar invented her test, there was no standardized way to judge whether a newborn was thriving. As such, many signs went unnoticed (such as poor color, slow heart rate or weak muscle tone). Sadly, many lives were lost as a result. Apgar, who was so devoted to saving lives that it’s said she never went anywhere without her resuscitation kit, took it upon herself to change the way obstetrics departments monitor newborns.

But that wasn’t her only accomplishment. Apgar also devoted a large portion of her career to studying and improving anesthesiology in the field of labor and delivery. She also championed immunizations like the polio vaccine and was vigilant about finding ways to stop the spread of disease.

Outside of her working life, Apgar enjoyed fly-fishing, flying planes and playing her violin. She was known for her sense of humor and unabashed way of discussing “intimate” issues without fear. No shrinking violet here!

Three cheers for this bold woman and her test that continues to save lives today.

[h/t: Mental Floss]