Article Text

Download PDFPDF
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}


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.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • 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.