Use of the Broselow tape may result in the underresuscitation of children

Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Oct;13(10):1011-9. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2006.06.042.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the concordance of the Broselow tape with the measured heights and weights of a community-based population of children, especially in light of the increase in obesity in today's children.

Methods: The authors examined more than 7,500 children in a cross-sectional, descriptive study in two different cohorts of children to compare their actual weight with their predicted weight by a color-coded tape measure.

Results: In all patients, the percent agreement and kappa values of the Broselow color predicted by height versus the actual color by weight for the 2002A tape were 66.2% and 0.61, respectively. The concordance was best in infants, followed by school-age children, toddlers, and preschoolers (kappa = 0.66, 0.44, 0.39, and 0.39, respectively; percent agreement, 81.3%, 58.2%, 60.7%, and 64.0%, respectively). The tapes accurately predicted (within 10%) medication dosages for resuscitation in 55.3%-60.0% of the children. The number of children who were underdosed (by > or =10%) exceeded those who were overdosed (by > or =10%) by 2.5 to 4.4 times (p < 0.05). The tapes accurately predicted uncuffed endotracheal tube sizes when compared with age-based guidelines in 71% of the children, with undersizing (> or =0.5 mm) exceeding oversizing by threefold to fourfold (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: The Broselow tape color-coded system inaccurately predicted actual weight in one third of children. Caregivers need to take into consideration the accuracy of this device when estimating children's weight during the resuscitation of a child.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry / instrumentation*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pediatrics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Resuscitation / methods*