Bias related to body mass index in pediatric echocardiographic Z scores

Pediatr Cardiol. 2015 Mar;36(3):667-76. doi: 10.1007/s00246-014-1063-7. Epub 2014 Nov 12.


In pediatric echocardiography, cardiac dimensions are often normalized for weight, height, or body surface area (BSA). The combined influence of height and weight on cardiac size is complex and likely varies with age. We hypothesized that increasing weight for height, as represented by body mass index (BMI) adjusted for age, is poorly accounted for in Z scores normalized for weight, height, or BSA. We aimed to evaluate whether a bias related to BMI was introduced when proximal aorta diameter Z scores are derived from bivariate models (only one normalizing variable), and whether such a bias was reduced when multivariable models are used. We analyzed 1,422 echocardiograms read as normal in children ≤18 years. We computed Z scores of the proximal aorta using allometric, polynomial, and multivariable models with four body size variables. We then assessed the level of residual association of Z scores and BMI adjusted for age and sex. In children ≥6 years, we found a significant residual linear association with BMI-for-age and Z scores for most regression models. Only a multivariable model including weight and height as independent predictors produced a Z score free of linear association with BMI. We concluded that a bias related to BMI was present in Z scores of proximal aorta diameter when normalization was done using bivariate models, regardless of the regression model or the normalizing variable. The use of multivariable models with weight and height as independent predictors should be explored to reduce this potential pitfall when pediatric echocardiography reference values are evaluated.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Aorta / diagnostic imaging*
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Surface Area
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis