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Friday, 16 September 2011

School success can be predicted just FIVE minutes after a child is born, scientists claim

That nature versus nurture argument just won't ever go away. The latest is a health test given to babies minutes after they are born which,  it has been claimed, could reveal how well they will do in secondary school. 

A study of 877,000 Swedish teenagers compared school exam results with their Apgar scores after birth. The Apgar is a test which rates the newborn's health on a scale of one to ten and how much medical attention the child needs.

Researchers found a link between an Apgar score of below seven and lower intelligence in later life. It is thought that looking more closely at early problems could help address a child's needs as they grow up. Dr. Andrea Stuart, an obstetrician at Central Hospital in Helsingborg, Sweden, told Msnbc: 'It is not the Apgar score in itself that leads to lower cognitive abilities.

'It is the reasons leading to a low Apgar score (including asphyxiation, preterm delivery, maternal drug use, infections) that might have an impact on future brain function.' The study appears in next month's issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.



The Apgar test is given between one and five minutes after birth. It evaluates an infant's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, skin colour and reflex irritability (sneezing or coughing) on a scale of one to ten. Scores of eight and above are considered to be signs of good health. The test was developed by Dr Virginia Apgar in 1952 and has been a simple and effective way of testing a baby's health since. Researchers also made the point that only one in 44 newborns with a low Apgar score went on to need special education, so mothers of babies who had low scores did not have cause for concern.

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