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The best tools to measure the length of infants and sitting height for female adults

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Mohamed M Hassan Gani

Nutrition Analyst FSNAU FAO

Normal user

18 Apr 2009, 18:54

I would like to know the best and most accurate tools to meaasure the above mentioned subject.

Regards

MMH Gani
FSAU FAO
Somalia

Nina Berry

IFE Consultant

Normal user

20 Apr 2009, 00:13

Hi
I don't know about sitting height but the length (or height) of infants is most accurately measured on a recumbent length board. The critical components of a lengthboard are 1) a fixed headpiece and 2) a moveable footpiece which is perpendicular to the surface of the table that the length board is on. 3) an accurately calibrated, easy to read scale printed on the horizontal part of the device (note that the numbers should be printed at the side of the board and not in the middle where the child will be lying on them!). This demonstrates the procedure quite clearly
http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/cms/docs/NSC_infant_length_poster.pdf and has a pretty good illustration of what a length board looks like. I imagine you could have them made locally.
Depending on your situation, you might find a mat more convenient, portable and inexpensive than a board but you will need a flat horizontal surface, like a table to place it onto in order for it to be effective http://www.quickmedical.com/seca/pediatrics/210.html. (Note that the baby lying on the mat is not in the correct position for measuring - he is not straight enough.) The danger with mats is that they can stretch a bit if they are not cared for properly.
Regardless of what tool you use, it is notoriously difficult to achieve consistently accurate measurements. Initial training of staff using the tools and regular refresher courses (what we call 'assessment validation') is always the key to getting accurate measurements.
Cheers
Nina

Tamsin Walters

en-net moderator

Forum moderator

20 Apr 2009, 17:34

Dear MM Hassan Gani

If you have not already done so, please also see a previous question in the Infant & Young Child Feeding Interventions forum area entitled Prevalence of moderate malnutrition in infants, which includes some discussion of the challenges of measuring infants and interpretation of results.

Many thanks
Tamsin

Mark Myatt

Consultant Epideomiologist

Frequent user

28 Apr 2009, 10:29

For infant length use a standard height / length board. Guidance is available in most guidelines (e.g. MSF, FANTA, SC-UK). For sitting height you can also use a standard height board (although this may need to be longer than the boards commonly used in anthropometry surveys. The appropriate method is presented in Schilg and Hulse (1997). In summary ... measure to neared 0.1 mm using a height board placed on a table. Backs of knees resting on the edge of the table, thighs horizontal, back straight, buttocks and scapula against the height board, hands on their knees, feet supported, looking straight ahead. Sitting height is measured when the subject has exhales fully.

Nina Berry

IFE Consultant

Normal user

28 Apr 2009, 10:47

Mark,
I am wondering how a measurement accurate to the nearest 0.1mm could be achieved (0.1mm~1/250inch). It would be difficult to get a measurement accurate to the nearest 1.0mm (~1/25inch) and I am not sure what would be gained by attempting to achieve that sort of sensitivity. Did I misunderstand? Typo maybe? Did you mean the nearest 1.0mm = 0.1cm ... or 0.1m (=1.0cm ~2/5inch)?
Cheers
Nina

Mark Myatt

Consultant Epideomiologist

Frequent user

28 Apr 2009, 10:50

Yes. 0.1 cm or 1 mm. I suppose I was thinking 0.1 cm = 1 mm as a I was writing and wrote "mm" instead of "cm". That will teach me to check what I write!

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