The Neonatal Environment: Definition & Apgar Test

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Newborn: Capabilities, Growth, and Developmental Milestones

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 The Neonatal Environment
  • 1:45 Apgar Test
  • 2:33 Apgar Scores
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

The neonatal period lasts from birth until four weeks old. Care during this period is essential to healthy development. In this lesson, explore the neonatal environment and learn how the Apgar test is used to assess newborn functioning.

The Neonatal Environment

Imagine you suddenly find yourself in a dark tunnel. You have to squeeze your way through the small tunnel to get out. It takes you hours to push your way out of the tunnel, but you finally make it out. Exhausted, you take in your first breath of fresh air, only to find that you've never inhaled anything like it. The lights are bright, and there are unfamiliar sounds. You know that you must adapt to this new environment and the stress that it brings. How well you adapt in the next month will be essential to your survival in this new world.

This scenario really isn't much different from what a newborn experiences when it leaves the womb at the time of birth. In the womb, all of the infant's physical needs were provided for by the mother. It must now learn to adapt and survive in a new environment. How well the infant adapts in the first month of life is essential to its survival.

A newborn's life from birth until it is four weeks old is called the neonatal period.

Care during this period is essential for healthy development. During the neonatal period, a newborn is at its greatest risk for disease or death than at any other time. Because of this, it is important to examine a newborn so that any symptoms or signs of abnormality can be detected. An initial examination must be performed immediately after the delivery. This establishes a baseline for the newborn's condition, which is then used to assess how the newborn is adapting to the outside environment.

Apgar Test

Do you remember the first test you were ever given? Probably not! This is because, for most of us, our first test was given right after our birth. The Apgar is a quick exam given at one minute after birth and again at five minutes after birth. It was developed in 1952 by Virginia Apgar and has become a standard assessment for newborns.

At one minute, the exam determines how well the newborn tolerated the birthing process. At five minutes, the exam assesses the newborn's initial adaption to its new environment.

The Apgar evaluates five different conditions: the baby's color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and respiration.

Apgar Scores

Now that you know what your first test was about, how well do you think you did? Before you answer this, you should know that it's rare for any newborn to get a perfect score. The good news is that even though you probably did not get a perfect score, the test does not predict your future potential.

So, if the Apgar test does not predict the future health of a newborn, what do the scores mean?

Before we answer this question, let's look at the scores for each condition individually. A newborn receives a score ranging from zero to two for each of the five conditions evaluated by the Apgar. So, a perfect score on the Apgar would be a score of ten.

The following scores are given based on the infant's heart rate:

  • 0 = no heart rate
  • 1 = < 100 beats per minute
  • 2 = > 100 beats per minute

The scores given for the infant's respiration are:

  • 0 = not breathing
  • 1 = weak cry
  • 2 = strong cry

Scores for muscle tone are:

  • 0 = limp
  • 1 = some movement
  • 2 = active motion

Scores for infant reflexes are:

  • 0 = no response to airways being stimulated
  • 1 = grimace during stimulation
  • 2 = grimace and cough or sneeze during airway stimulation

And finally, the infant's color is evaluated and given one of the following scores:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account