A study of errors that can occur when weighing infants

Authors

  • Linda Alsop-Shields MMedSc RN MRCNA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Registered Nurse and Post-Graduate Student, Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane, and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. University of Queensland
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  • Heather Alexander BSC MAppSc DipNutrDiet

    1. Dietitian and Post-Graduate Student, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Queensland, Queensland. Australia
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Linda Alsop-Shields, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health. Mater Children's Hospital. South Brisbane, 4101, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

When infants are weighed at well baby or infant welfare clinics, the weight change from one visit to the next is used as a guide to the welfare of the child. Infant welfare clinic nurses are expert clinicians who use weight measurements as a rough indicator of well-being only, as it is well known by them that these measurements are fraught with error. This paper calculates the amount of error which was found in repeated tests of weights of infants, and in the weight changes brought about by biological variation. As a result, it is recommended that babies under nine months of age be weighed at clinic visits no less than a fortnight apart, and older infants, at least one month apart. If they are weighed more often, then the weight changes detected will be less than the amount of error which affects the measurements.

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