Child factor in measurement dependability

Am J Hum Biol. Jul-Aug 2001;13(4):548-57. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.1087.


A primary consideration in longitudinal growth studies is the identification of growth from error components. While previous research has considered matters of measurement accuracy and reproducibility in detail, few reports have investigated the errors of measurement due to aspects of the physiology and cooperation of the child. The present study directly assesses this source of measurement undependability for the first time. Investigation of total measurement error variance in 925 recumbent length replicates taken over stasis intervals in growth identifies that between 60% and 70% of total measurement unreliability is due to a child factor undependability. Individual differences are significant and longitudinal growth analyses should consider two to three times the technical error of measurement statistic as a reasonable estimate of the total unreliability for any single measurement of an infant's recumbent length. These results raise issues regarding analytic methods as applied to serial growth data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Bias*
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Research Design
  • Time Factors