July 20, 2018

Google Doodle honors Mount Holyoke's Virginia Apgar

08 June 2018, 10:40 | Silvia Roy

The Apgar score is recorded within 1 and 5 minutes of birth

The Apgar score is recorded within 1 and 5 minutes of birth

Today's Google Doodle is paying tribute to Dr Virginia Apgar. Virginia Apgar, would have celebrated her 109th birthday Thursday.

Apgar was born on June 7, 1909.

As a medical student, Apgar noted that a number of babies that had seemed healthy at birth were dying soon after leaving the hospital. So, in 1952, using both her skills in obstetrical anesthesia and her keen interest in neonatal science, she invented the Apgar score, which measures Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration. Upon clicking on the illustration, Dr Apgar is seen observing babies as they are and writing on her notepad. On the other hand, the 5-minute score tells the health care provider how well the baby is doing outside the mother's womb.

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Doctors score each part score of zero to two, with the highest total score being 10.

The doctor was given three honorary doctorates during her career rom the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, Mount Holyoke College and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry. 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.

A score lower than 7 should warn caregivers that the baby needs medical attention. Her research work is believed to have resulted in the decrease of infant mortality level rates in the first 24 hours after childbirth. "A Guide to Birth Defects" published in collaboration with Joan Beck.

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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.

She received a masters degree in public health at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, graduating 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. But the Apgar score system developed by her is still used to quickly assess the health of newborns.

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

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

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