Google’s doodle remembers Apgar Score and its creator Virginia Apgar

Google Doodle

Google Doodle

She is best known as the inventor of the 'Apgar score, ' a method to summarise the birth of newborns.

Today's Google Doodle is paying tribute to Dr Virginia Apgar.

The American anesthesiologist would have been celebrating her 109th birthday. Countries across the world were quick to adopt the test and the Apgar Score is being used even today by obstetricians.

Apgar was born on June 7, 1909 in Westfield, N.J., and died August 7, 1974.

As a medical student, Apgar noted that a number of babies that had seemed healthy at birth were dying soon after leaving the hospital. The Apgar test, an acronym for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration, takes a minute to ascertain if a newborn needs immediate medical assistance.

In her last years, Apgar developed progressive liver cirrhosis. A higher score in the test means less threat to the baby's survival.

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Each category is scored with 0, 1, or 2, depending on the observed condition. She was also the first woman to head a division at the Presbyterian Hospital in NY. Score above 7 are normal and 4 to 6 are fairly low.

Apgar graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in the United States with flying colours. "The points are then totaled to arrive at the baby's score", is how she explained the Apgar score she created in her journal article "Evaluation of the Newborn Infant-Second Report".

Apgar was also an early expert in the area of birth defects.

She also held a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University, worked for the March of Dimes as the head of its new congenital malformations division in the 1950s, and went on to become what is said to be the first medical professor to specialize in birth defects as a professor at Cornell University. She wanted to be a surgeon, but was discouraged by the (male) chairman of surgery.

Apart from developing her famous scoring exercise, Dr. Apgar was a notable advocate for universal vaccination in order to combat the rubella epidemic of the mid-Sixties. She attended Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and in 1933, she graduated fourth in her class before completing a residency in surgery at P&S in 1937.

She trained in anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin and Bellevue Hospital in the USA, but returned to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1938.

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