Comparison of the finger counting method, the Broselow tape and common weight estimation formulae in Filipino children after Typhoon Haiyan

Emerg Med Australas. 2015 Jun;27(3):239-44. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12382. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Objectives: We sought to evaluate commonly used paediatric weight estimation techniques in a sample of children in the Philippines.

Methods: We prospectively collected age, height and weight data for a sample of 207 children aged 1-9 years seen during a medical aid trip. Weights were estimated using the finger counting method, the Broselow method and four formulae. Bland-Altman analysis was performed to evaluate agreement with measured weight.

Results: Mean difference and range of agreement in kilograms were as follows: 0.6 (95% CI 0.1-1.1) and 14.9 (95% CI 13.1-16.7) for the Broselow method; 1.1 (95% CI 0.5-1.7) and 17.3 (95% CI 15.2-19.3) for the traditional APLS formula; 3.1 (95% CI 2.4-3.7) and 18.6 (95% CI 16.4-20.8) for the finger counting method; 4.0 (95% CI 3.2-4.8) and 23.1 (95% CI 20.3-25.8) for the updated APLS method; 5.1 (95% CI 4.4-5.8) and 21.1 (95% CI 18.6-23.6) for the Luscombe formula; and 5.3 (95% CI 4.5-6.1) and 22.5 (95% CI 20-25.2) for the Best Guess formulae.

Conclusions: The Broselow tape and the traditional APLS formula performed best in our sample. The finger counting method also outperformed newer weight estimation formulae. 'Updated' age-based formulae created recently in developed countries should not be used in disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. Caution should be used when applying these formulae to other developing countries and in disaster response.

Keywords: finger counting method; paediatrics; weight estimation.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Developing Countries
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Medicine / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Philippines
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis