Apgar score (AS) is a well-established tool for assessing viability of newborns, and its association with subsequent child development has been suggested. We aimed to assess whether Apgar scores (ASs) ≥ 7 (generally considered normal) are associated with the developmental status at 3 years of age while adjusting for perinatal and socioeconomic confounders. We extracted the data of ASs at 1 and 5 min among participants of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study datasets, which were used in this nationwide cohort study. The outcomes comprised developmental status that was less than each cutoff value for the following five domains of the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (Japanese version, 3rd edition): communication, gross and fine motor, problem-solving, and personal-social domains. For this objective, we conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses on the data of 54,716 children. Compared with ASs ≥ 9 at 5 min, the adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for delayed development in children with ASs ≤ 8 were 1.31 (95% confidence interval, 1.11–1.56), 1.20 (1.04–1.38), and 1.16 (1.01–1.34), respectively, for gross and fine motor, and problem-solving domains. Among neonates with ASs ≤ 8 at 1 min, when those with ASs ≤ 8 at 5 min were compared with those with ASs ≥ 9 at 5 min, the aOR for gross motor domain was 1.34 (1.11–1.61). Conclusion: ASs ≤ 8 compared with those ≥ 9 at 5 min, even considering the change of AS from 1 to 5 min, were associated with increased ORs for developmental delay in 3-year-olds. Even ASs that are considered normal might affect the subsequent development.What is Known:• Apgar score is a general tool for evaluating the vitality of newborns. It is also basically measured at 1 minute and 5 minutes after birth and the scores of ≥7 are considered normal.• The Apgar scores at each minute affect clinical findings of neonates after birth and the subsequent long-term development.What is New:• Neonates with Apgar scores of ≤8 at 5 minutes compared with those of ≥9, including the change in Apgar score from 1 minute to 5 minutes, are associated with increased odds ratios for developmental status at 3 years of age adjusting for perinatal and socioeconomic confounders.
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