Original Research

Errors in anthropometric measurements in neonates and infants

D Harrison, H Harker, H D V Heese, J Berelowitz
Curationis | Vol 24, No 2 | a817 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v24i2.817 | © 2001 D Harrison, H Harker, H D V Heese, J Berelowitz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2001 | Published: 28 September 2001

About the author(s)

D Harrison, Carinus nursing College, Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa
H Harker, Carinus Nursing College, Rondebosch Cottage Hospital, South Africa
H D V Heese, Institute of child health, University of Cape Town, South Africa
J Berelowitz, Institute of child health, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Abstract

The accuracy of methods used in Cape Town hospitals and clinics for the measurement of weight, length and age in neonates and infants became suspect during a survey of 12 local authority and 5 private sector clinics in 1994-1995 (Harrison et al. 1998). A descriptive prospective study to determine the accuracy of these methods in neonates at four maternity hospitals [ 2 public and 2 private] and infants at four child health clinics of the Cape Town City Council was carried out.
The main outcome measures were an assessment of three currently used methods namely to measure crown-heel length with a measuring board, a mat and a tape measure; a comparison of weight differences when an infant is fully clothed, naked and in napkin only; and the differences in age estimated by calendar dates and by a specially designed electronic calculator.
The results showed that the current methods which are used to measure infants in Cape Town vary widely from one institution to another. Many measurements are inaccurate and there is a real need for uniformity and accuracy. This can only be implemented by an effective education program so as to ensure that accurate measurements are used in monitoring the health of young children in Cape Town and elsewhere.

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