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March of Dimes Honors 100th Anniversary of Virginia Apgar
Date:6/7/2009

Pioneering Doctor Developed APGAR Score, Established Perinatology as a Medical Specialty

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For nearly 60 years, every baby born in the United States and worldwide has been seen through the eyes of Virginia Apgar, MD, who developed the five-point APGAR score to evaluate an infant's health at birth.

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of Dr. Apgar's own birth, and the March of Dimes, the organization she worked for from 1959 until her death in 1974, is calling attention to her enduring legacy in infant health. Most famous is the APGAR score, which she created in 1952 as a new way to determine if a baby needed specialized care. It measures an infant's pulse, skin color, reflex, muscle tone, and respiration and still today is given at one and five minutes after birth.

The APGAR scoring system helped reduce infant mortality and spurred the creation of neonatal health as a medical focus, establishing the need for facilities, protocols and professionals to provide specialized care, said Alan R. Fleischman, MD, March of Dimes medical director.

"Every baby born in America benefits from Dr. Apgar's pioneering work to identify quickly which newborns need emergency care or have a serious birth defect," said Dr. Fleischman. "The babies whose lives are saved by the special care in newborn intensive care units particularly benefit from her efforts to develop the resources that made these units possible."

Today, the March of Dimes NICU Family Support(R) project provides information and comfort to families with a sick or premature baby in the NICU, during the transition to home, and in the event of a newborn death. It also contributes to NICU staff professional development and seeks to promote a family-centered philosophy in NICUs throughout the country.

Dr. Apgar was an advocate for universal rubella (German measles) vaccin
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SOURCE March of Dimes
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