The Apgar, the first test they administer to newborns in the delivery room, is used to determine if an infant needs medical attention to stabilize heart rate and breathing function. The test looks as such indicators as; breathing effort, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and skin colour. It was developed by Dr Virginia Apgar and has in practice since 1952.
A recent study of 877,000 Swedish high school students compared their Apgar scores to their exam marks at school. Researchers found that teenagers, who scored below seven on their Apgar test, as newborns, were more likely to struggle with lower intelligence later on.
Realising their results would cause parents to worry, researchers quantified their findings, which indicated that only one in 44 newborns, with low Apgar results, went on to require special education.
Dr Richard Polin, director of neonatology at Columbia University Medical Center and member of the Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, further stemmed the tide of concern saying, “Most babies who have Apgar scores of seven or less do perfectly fine.”
“It is not the Apgar score in itself that leads to lower cognitive abilities,” Dr Andrea Stuart, an obstetrician at Central Hospital in Helsingborg, Sweden, explained to MSNBC.
“It is the reasons leading to a low Apgar score (including asphyxiation, preterm delivery, maternal drug use, infections) that might have an impact on future brain function.”
It is hoped that by paying more attention to these early problems, some of the intellectual impact may be mitigated.
The study, which is the largest to examine a link between Apgar score and later school success, will be published in the upcoming issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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