Estimating the weight of children in Kenya: do the Broselow tape and age-based formulas measure up?

Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Jan;61(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.07.110. Epub 2012 Aug 31.


Study objective: Validated methods for weight estimation of children are readily available in developed countries; however, their utility in developing countries with higher rates of malnutrition and infectious disease is unknown. The goal of this study is to determine the validity of a height-based estimate, the Broselow tape, compared with age-based estimations among pediatric patients in Western Kenya.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study of all sick children presenting to the emergency department of a government referral hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, was performed. Measured weight was compared with predicted weights according to the Broselow tape and commonly used advanced pediatric life support (APLS) and Nelson's age-based formulas. A Bland-Altman analysis was used to determine agreement between each method and actual weight. The method for weight prediction was determined a priori to be equivalent to the actual weight if the 95% confidence interval for the mean percentage difference between the predicted and actual weight was less than 10%.

Results: Nine hundred sixty-seven children were included in analysis. The overall mean percentage difference for the actual weight and Broselow predicted weight was -2.2%, whereas APLS and Nelson's predictions were -5.2% and -10.4%, respectively. The overall agreement between Broselow color zone and actual weight was 65.5%, with overestimate typically occurring by only 1 color zone.

Conclusion: The Broselow tape and APLS formula predict the weights of children in western Kenya. According to its better performance, ease of use, and provision of drug dosing and equipment size, the Broselow tape is superior to age-based formulas for estimation of weight in Kenyan children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study
  • Webcast

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry / instrumentation
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kenya
  • Observer Variation
  • Prospective Studies