Google Doodle pays homage to baby-saving doctor Virginia Apgar

Grant Boone
June 8, 2018

Google on Thursday dedicated a Doodle to honour pioneering United States clinician Virginia Apgar who developed a quick health test for infants to determine if a newborn needs help breathing or is having heart trouble. Dr Apgar developed a quick health test for infants to determine if they need help breathing or are having a heart trouble.

The American anesthesiologist would have been celebrating her 109th birthday.

Dr Apgar is further known for her contribution in the fields of anaesthesiology and teratology, study of abnormal psychological development in newborns, etc. These are Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration. The Apgar test is conducted a minute after birth, and again four minutes later, in order to judge the effectiveness of intervention.

This prompted the fiercely passionate physician to develop her score, which has a range of zero to ten based on a tot's condition.

A score lower than 7 should warn caregivers that the baby needs medical attention. 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.

This was achieved by trying to investigate the first 24 hours of an infant's life and document trends to distinguish healthy babies from unhealthy ones.

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Apgar was able to link the scores to infant mortality, proving that her test could really make a difference.

Apgar was born on June 7, 1909. This was because there was no commonly used method for measuring newborn health.

Apgar was the youngest of three children. She received a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University in 1959, and was a director at the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which is know known as the March of Dimes.

Apgar graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in the USA with flying colours. She wanted to be a surgeon, but was discouraged by the (male) chairman of surgery. She died in 1974 at the age of 65.

Apgar was the first woman to head a specialty division at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1949, she moved onto neonatal medicine, where she began to dedicate herself to saving the lives of babies. When she was introduced to instrument-making, she made two violins along with her friend and later, even made a cello.

These included fishing, stamp collecting and flying lessons in her fifties.

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