DR VIRGINIA APGAR’S MOST SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO MEDICINE
You may or may not know of a woman named Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) from Westfield, New Jersey. Read further and you’ll realize how she has had something to do with the birth of some of us and most surely our children and grandbabies, at least since the early 1960s. And why am I writing about her? It’s her birthday – June 7.
Virginia graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1933. While working at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital as an anesthesiologist, Dr. Apgar developed the Apgar score in 1952.
The Apgar scale is a scoring method to quickly evaluate the health of a newborn. The 5 objective points to check: heart rate, respiration, muscle tone or activity, reflex response to stimulation, and color. Scoring is done 1 minute after birth. Each of the 5 signs are rated 0, 1, or 2, depending on whether it was absent or present. A score of 10 indicated a baby in the best possible condition.
The 5 criteria are summarized using words chosen to form a backronym (an acronym deliberately formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name or as a fanciful explanation of a word’s origin). Those are appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration which represent Apgar, Virginia’s last name.
The Apgar evaluation became standard practice in the early 1960s and is now performed on newborns in hospitals worldwide.
Google honored her with a Doodle to acknowledge her 109th birthday!