Virginia Apgar: Google Doodle celebrates doctor who PIONEERED life-saving treatment

She is best known as the inventor of the 'Apgar score, ' a method to summarise the birth of newborns. She was born on June 7, 1909. The Apgar test is conducted a minute after birth, and again four minutes later, in order to judge the effectiveness of intervention.

Apgar was encouraged to study anesthesiology and became interested in the field of obstetrical anesthesia where she would make her greatest contributions.

The assessment has been called the "birth of clinical neonatology" and credited with not only reducing infant mortality but also changing health care's approach to the birth process to be more effectively focus on mother and child and the effects of delivery on the baby. A higher score in the test means less threat to the baby's survival.

Thursday's Google Doodle appeared for internet users in the United States, as well as Japan, India, Israel, Chile, Argentina, Australia and several European nations.

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

Google's Doodle today honors a Mount Holyoke College graduate - Dr. Virginia Apgar. 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. In her later years, she worked for March of Dimes, a non-profit founded by President Franklin Roosevelt that initially targeted polio but went on to focus on the prevention of birth defects.

Dr. Apgar developed the test after noticing that, even though the general USA infant mortality rate fell between the 1930s and 1950s, it remained constant for babies within the first day of life.

The Apgar score rates key health metrics like heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflex response, and color, on a scale from 0-10. An anesthesiologist by training, she climbed the ranks at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in the 1930s and '40s, when anesthesiology wasn't recognized as a medical specialty.

She received a masters degree in public health at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, graduating in 1959. She wanted to be a surgeon, but was discouraged by the (male) chairman of surgery.

She trained in anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin and Bellevue Hospital in the U.S., but returned to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in 1938. She breathed her last at the age of 65.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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