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Can age-based estimates of weight be safely used when resuscitating children?
  1. J M Sandell1,
  2. S C Charman2
  1. 1
    Department of Child Health, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Poole, Dorset, UK
  2. 2
    London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. DR J M Sandell, Department of Child Health, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB, UK; julian.sandell{at}poole.nhs.uk

Abstract

Background: Prescribing medication appropriate to a child’s bodily dimensions is fundamental to paediatric emergency medicine. Mathematical formulae are frequently used in clinical practice to estimate children’s weights. In 1995 the UK’s paediatric reference data, describing age-related changes in bodily proportions (both weight and height), were updated and published. This study assesses the validity of using mathematical estimates, age-based estimates or length-based estimates of weight (the latter both compiled from this reference data) by comparison with actual physical measurements recorded in a paediatric clinic setting.

Methods: A prospective study was carried out in a paediatric outpatient setting recording age, weight and height for statistical comparison with these three possible methods.

Results: 544 children aged 0–11 years were recruited, with mean (SD) age, weight and height of 5.3 (2.9) years, 21.4 (10) kg and 108 (22) cm, respectively.

Conclusions: Both length-based and age-based estimates of weight outperformed the currently accepted “gold standard” mathematical estimate when applied to children up to 11 years of age (∼35 kg). Length-based estimates were statistically superior, but the physical limitations and technical constraints posed when attempting to accurately measure a child’s length in emergency environments may favour the simplicity of using the child’s age against tables of growth chart reference data to provide an estimate of their weight.

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Footnotes

  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: JMS is the author of the SandellTape, a resuscitation device incorporating both age- and length-based estimates of children’s bodily proportions.

  • Ethics approval: Research and ethical committee approval was obtained as well as written consent from each individual enrolled. Issues of confidentiality and those related to the Data Protection Act were also addressed.

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