Children's weights: guess or measure by tape?

Lancet. 1999 Nov 6;354(9190):1616. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(99)04552-3.


Children's doses of drugs are prescribed according to bodyweight but in resource-poor countries weighing scales may be unavailable, inaccurate, or broken. We designed a length/weight tape for use in our community and found it reasonably accurate for weights of 4-16 kg and better than a clinician's guess.

PIP: This article recommends the use of length/dosing tape for measuring drug dosage for children, a modified method that shows the weights-for-length which can be used in a community where weighing scales are unavailable. This recommendation was supported by a finding of an American study, showing that the use of tape to measure pediatric drug dosage was reasonably accurate in children weighing within the range of 4 kg and 16 kg. Furthermore, test results from rural health facilities indicated that the proportion of drug dosage to be prescribed was greater with the use of a tape weight than from a guessed weight. The tape also provides a very good approximation for weight in children weighing between 4 and 14 kg. This paper believes that the use of the tape could enhance pediatric health care in situations, wherein weighing them is impossible.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / instrumentation*