Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Dr. Virginia Apgar, pioneer behind Apgar score, being celebrated with Google doodle

Dr. Virginia Apgar, pioneer behind Apgar score, being celebrated with Google doodle

Developed in 1952 in the United States 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. The scoring system, which has since saved countless babies, evaluates newborns' health on five factors: heart rate, respiration, skin color, muscle tone, and reflexes.

But Whipple also recognized that Apgar's skill could further the field of anesthesia, and she spent a year training in it after completing her surgical residency in 1937. The Apgar score was quickly adopted by hospitals across the US and eventually worldwide and is credited for lowering the national infant mortality rate.

As an obstetric anesthesiologist, Apgar was able to document trends that could set apart healthy infants from infants in trouble.

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

The Apgar Score is what's known as a "backronym" - the words were only chosen after the Dr. Apgar's test had gone into practice in 1952, in order to help people remember the elements of the test.

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The US clinician was born in 1909 in Westfield, New Jersey to a musical family.

Apgar was the youngest of three children.

Google's Doodle today honors a Mount Holyoke College graduate - Dr. Virginia Apgar.

Dr Virginia Apgar received a degree in public health from John Hopkins University in 1959. She was discouraged from practising surgery as a career, her University chose her male colleague to head the department even though she was seniormost, and she had to fight for equal pay.

She died on 7 August, 1974 because of a liver failure, a disease also called as cirrhosis.

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She was appointed the first woman Professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in 1949, according to a biography of the clinician at the Columbia University website.

A U.S. postage stamp carrying her portrait was also released after her death.

Her family was devoted to music, but she dedicated her life to lowering the USA's infant mortality rate. She passed away at the age of 65 in the same hospital where she was practising. 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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