The Apgar score measures the need to resuscitate an infant immediately after birth. This scoring system was first coined by Virginia Apgar in 1952. Since that time it has become a common scoring system used during delivery.

Apgar scores are divided into 5 categories. These include heart rate, respirations, muscle tone, reflexes, and color. Zero to 2 points are scored in each category. Therefore, an infant may score anywhere from 0 to 10 overall. Apgar scores are awarded at 1 and 5 minutes after delivery. If the 5-minute Apgar score is 6 or less, the infant will receive a 10-minute Apgar score as well. Apgar scores are poor indicators of neonatal outcome. They do help determine the effectiveness of resuscitative efforts. Specifically, Apgar scores at 1 minute are only a gauge to determine whether immediate support is needed. Low scores (0 to 3) at these intervals, however, have correlated with a slightly increased risk of cerebral palsy.

Apgar scores alone are poor indicators of long-term outcomes for an infant who experiences hypoxia (lack of oxygenation) at birth. Multiple factors must be used to make these assessments.