On this day in 1909, American obstetrical anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar was born. Known as the inventor of the Apgar score, Apgar is credited with saving the lives of millions of newborn babies.
Apgar was born on June 7, 1909 in Westfield, New Jersey. She developed her interest in science partly from her father, who was an amateur astronomer and inventor.
In 1949, Apgar became the first woman to become a full professor at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and became the director of the department of anesthesiology. During this time, she noticed that although the infant morality rate in the U.S. decreased, the number of infant deaths within the first 24 hours remained the same. Since there was no standardize method to compare the health of newborns, many infants in need of care were overlooked. In 1952, she developed the Apgar score, which was a method to quickly evaluate the physical health of a newborn immediately after birth. The score looks at five factors (appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, respiration) and range from 0 to 10. The score was instrumental in helping doctors determine when a newborn needed immediate care. Today, the Apgar score is utilized in hospitals worldwide and has helped save the lives of countless newborns.
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Image: Library of Congress