Friday, 19 October, 2018

The pioneering woman who invented a life-saving test for newborns

Dr Virginia Apgar discovered the Apgar score for determining newborn's health immediately after birth Dr Virginia Apgar discovered the Apgar score for determining newborn's health immediately after birth
Anna Jefferson | 08 June, 2018, 10:42

Google Doodle showing Dr. Virginia Apagar.

The animated doodle for Thursday June 7 shows a woman in lab coat documenting the movements of a newborn positioned atop the words "Apgar". Apgar is is an acronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiratory effort. The Apgar test is based on a total score of 1 to 10.

Each of these categories in Dr. Apgar's test earns the baby between zero and two points, depending on the health of the response.

The doctor was given three honorary doctorates during her career rom the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, Mount Holyoke College and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry.

Apgar graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in the U.S. with flying colours.

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Virginia Apgar was trained as a surgeon who specialised in anaesthesiology. Score above 7 are normal and 4 to 6 are fairly low. In her later years, she worked for March of Dimes, a non-profit founded by President Franklin Roosevelt that initially targeted polio but went on to focus on the prevention of birth defects. An anesthesiologist by training, she climbed the ranks at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in the 1930s and '40s, when anesthesiology wasn't recognized as a medical specialty. Developed in 1952 in the USA when the infant mortality rate (IMR) was high, the Apgar score is a key reason for that country seeing a massive drop in newborn deaths. The score, which has a scale of 0-2, helps in gauging the health of a newborn by taking into cognizance the basic functions of the body like heart rate, muscles' tone, respiration patterns, reflex, etc. and provides a result immediately thereafter. She was discouraged from practising surgery as a career, her University chose her male colleague to head the department even though she was seniormost, and she had to fight for equal pay.

She received a masters degree in public health at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, graduating in 1959.

Apgar wrote over 60 medical articles, and co-wrote the bestseller "Is My Baby All Right?" with Joan Beck.

She trained in anaesthesia at the University of Wisconsin and Bellevue Hospital in the USA, but returned to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1938. She breathed her last at the age of 65.

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