Piecewise regression equations for estimating stature: an anthropometric study in Spanish females


In forensic anthropology, generic equations are generally preferred for estimation of stature. However, recent studies have demonstrated that regression equations specific to stature groups yield more accurate predictions. Almost all previous studies have been conducted on male subjects, and it is not currently known how well such equations work for females. Therefore, this study aims to test whether regression equations specific to stature groups work for females as well. To this end, a cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate stature on a sample of 351 Spanish adult females. The participants were randomized into a calibration group (n = 185) and a validation group (n = 166). Equations for stature estimation based on tibial length were developed in the calibration group, which was categorized according to stature (short, medium, and tall) using the 15th and 85th percentiles as cut-off points. The standard errors of the estimations (SEEs) for the group-specific regression equations (SEE = 2.35–2.66 cm) were lower than for the general formula derived for all participants of the calibration group (SEE = 3.46 cm). The specific equations resulted in smaller differences between estimated and recorded statures than the generic equation when we tested the equations with the validation group. Additionally, the SEE values of the stature-specific equations are lower compared to generic equations applied to other human populations. In conclusion, the group-specific equations from tibial length have high accuracy compared with previously derived equations for Spanish females and other populations. This procedure for estimating stature thereby improves the tools available to forensic scientists.

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We would like to express our most sincere appreciation to all participants in the study and to all the persons who gave us permission to use the different facilities for data collection: Dr. Irurtia (Director of Catalan School of Kinanthropometry at the University of Barcelona), Dr. Agrasar (Professor of Anatomy, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education at the University of A Coruña), Mr. Teixeira (Manager of Método Sport Club of A Coruña), Mr. Martínez (Director of Bernat Picornell Pools of Barcelona), Mr. Viladot (Administration, CEO Holmes Place), and Dr. Agell (Department of Cell Biology, Immunology and Neurosciences at the University of Barcelona).

Author information




Study concept and design: Gonzalo Saco-Ledo, Jordi Porta, Izzet Duyar

Methodology: Gonzalo Saco-Ledo, Jordi Porta, Izzet Duyar

Supervision: Jordi Porta, Izzet Duyar

Interpretation of data: Gonzalo Saco-Ledo, Izzet Duyar

Drafting of the manuscript: Gonzalo Saco-Ledo, Izzet Duyar

Statistical analysis: Gonzalo Saco-Ledo

Critical revision of the manuscript: Jordi Porta, Tesla Monson, Marianne Brasil,

Derya Atamtürk, Izzet Duyar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gonzalo Saco-Ledo.

Ethics declarations

The project followed the recommendations of the Declaration of Helsinki on Human Rights, and was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee (12/2015/CEICEGC).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Saco-Ledo, G., Porta, J., Monson, T.A. et al. Piecewise regression equations for estimating stature: an anthropometric study in Spanish females. Int J Legal Med 134, 2289–2296 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-020-02350-9

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  • Forensic anthropology
  • Human identification
  • Stature estimation
  • Anthropometry
  • Tibia