Google Doodle pays homage to baby-saving doctor Virginia Apgar

Leslie Hanson
June 8, 2018

Dr Apgar is further known for her contribution in the fields of anaesthesiology and teratology, study of abnormal psychological development in newborns, etc. National Library of Medicine. An Apgar Score between 4 and 6 may mean some medical intervention is needed. A higher score in the test means less threat to the baby's survival.

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.

She realized that, despite the fact that the infant mortality rate was decreasing overall in the U.S., many newborns were still dying within 24 hours of birth.

The Apgar score rates key health metrics like heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color, on a scale from 0-10.

The Apgar score contributed immensely towards reducing infant mortality.

Born in 1909 in New Jersey, she is best known for inventing the Apgar Score, the first standardized way to test a newborn baby's health in the first few minutes after the baby is born.


Apgar was the youngest of three children. She left Columbia, got a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University, and began her work on genetics. And yet, when her division was upgraded to a department, she was passed over for the chair position in favor of a male colleague. 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 went on to graduate fourth in her class from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City.

She trained in anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin and Bellevue Hospital in the USA, but returned to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1938. In 1949, she moved onto neonatal medicine, where she began to dedicate herself to saving the lives of babies.

Born to a musical family, the music had so much to do with her as she had to do with it. Apgra played violin and travelled with her instrument as much as she could.

She worked nearly up until her death at the age of 64. 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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