Estimation of Children’s Weight in Medical Emergencies



In medical emergencies drug dosage, equipment sizing and electrical countershock dose are based on a child’s weight. Severity of illness and urgency of treatment usually preclude formal measurement of weight on scales. Incorrect weight estimation could result in drug toxicity or sub-therapeutic treatment, both of which may carry serious adverse outcomes. Methods for estimating weight rely on age–length–weight relationships and include age-based formulae and length-based methods. An alternative is visual estimation of weight by a parent or clinician. Available evidence suggests that parental estimation is the most accurate [where the parent is prepared to give an estimate], followed by length-based methods such as the Broselow Tape with age-based formulae being least accurate. Among the age-based formulae, the Best Guess formulae appear to perform best. Challenges to the age- and length-based methods are significant inter-ethnic variation in the age–height–weight relationship, the trend towards increasing weight across the world and how to factor body habitus into estimation methods in a way which is easily applied.


Weight Estimation Actual Weight Weight Relationship Body Mass Index Child Multiethnic Sample 
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Confidence interval




Emergency department




Root mean square error


Standard deviation


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Joseph Epstein Centre for Emergency Medicine Research at Western Health, Sunshine HospitalThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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