Apgar score at 5 minutes

Apgar scores are clinical indicators of a baby’s condition shortly after birth. The score is based on 5 characteristics of the baby: skin colour, pulse, breathing, muscle tone and reflex irritability. Each characteristic is given between 0 and 2 points, with a total score between 0 and 10 points.

An Apgar score of 7 more at 5 minutes after birth indicates that the baby is adapting well to the environment, while a score of less than 7 indicates complications for the baby.

In Australia, almost all liveborn babies had an Apgar score of 7 or more and this has been consistent over time.

Babies who had a higher proportion of Apgar scores less than 7 included:

  • low birthweight babies (compared to normal and high birthweight babies)
  • pre-term babies (compared with term and post-term babies)
  • babies who were part of a multiple birth (compared with singleton babies)
  • breech presentation (compared with other types of presentation).

Babies with an Apgar score of less than 7 had an increased likelihood of requiring resuscitation and admission to the special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit.