Measuring new born foot length to identify small babies in need of extra care: a cross-sectional hospital based study

Iran J Pediatr. 2013 Oct;23(5):508-12.


Objective: The neonatal mortality rate (NMR) continues to remain quite high, one important cause being preterm deliveries. The main obstacle in the pathway towards decreasing NMR is identification of babies in need of extra care. To analyze the utility of newborn foot length as a proxy measure for birth weight and gestational age.

Methods: A cross-sectional study done in a hospital of eastern India with 351 babies during 4 months. Right foot length of each recorded using a plastic, stiff ruler.

Findings: 48.1% babies were preterm, 51.8% low birth weight (LBW) and 33.3% very low birth weight (VLBW). Foot length less than 7.75 cm has 92.3% sensitivity and 86.3% specificity for identification of preterm neonates. For identification of LBW babies (<2500 gm) a foot length less than 7.85cm has 100% sensitivity and 95.3% specificity. Foot length less than 6.85 cm has 100% sensitivity and 94.9% specifity for identification of VLBW babies (<1500 gm).

Conclusion: Foot length may be used in the identification of LBW and preterm babies who are in need of extra care.

Keywords: Foot Length; Low Birth Weight; Neonatal Mortality; Preterm.