Emergency weight estimation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Northern Territory: are the current methods accurate?

Emerg Med Australas. 2014 Oct;26(5):487-93. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12278. Epub 2014 Sep 11.


Objective: During a paediatric emergency, it is often impractical to weigh a child. Many resuscitative measures require a child's weight; therefore, estimation is often used. Different methods are available to do this, usually based on a child's age or length. The accuracy of these methods has not been validated in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from remote communities. The objective of this study was to determine how well these paediatric emergency weight estimation methods predict weight for this group of children.

Method: A retrospective descriptive study using the measured weights and heights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from remote locations across the Northern Territory (NT) was used. The weight estimation methods chosen to evaluate were the APLS, 'Best Guess', Luscombe and Nelson's formulae, Argall's modification, the Broselow® and Sandell® tapes, and the World Health Organization standard reference growth charts. Adjusted R-squared values for each method are reported, and agreement was measured in terms of mean percentage error (MPE).

Results: A total of 2102 children were included. The length-based methods performed the best. The Broselow Tape had the highest adjusted R-squared value at 0.8886 in all age groups. The APLS, Luscombe and Argall's methods were the worst performing methods. The Broselow® Tape was also the best performing in terms of accuracy and precision, with an MPE of -0.35% (95% CI -0.82-0.1).

Conclusion: Our data support the use of the Broselow® Tape as the recommended method when estimating weight in an emergency for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT for the 0-5 year age group.

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; children; weight estimation.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Northern Territory
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Resuscitation
  • Retrospective Studies