PTN captures valuable anthropometric data for infants

The Pediatric Trials Network (PTN) conducted a study in 2015 to capture anthropometric data on pre-term and full-term infants up to 90 days old. An article on the study, An Anthropometric Survey of U.S. Preterm and Full-Term Neonates, was published in the journal Annals of Human Biology last month.

Dr. Susan Abdel-Rahman

“Anthropometric data are invaluable for informing the development of pediatric growth charts, assisting in policy making decisions, and supporting health initiatives,” said the article’s lead author, Dr. Susan Abdel-Rahman of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. “However, only a limited set of measures are available in publicly accessible databases.” These measures typically include weight, length, and head circumference of infants.

The PTN study captured additional measurements, such as humeral, ulnar, femoral, tibial, and fibular lengths, as well as mid-upper arm, mid-thigh, chest, abdominal, and neck circumference. More than 2000 infants were involved in the ­­study at 8 U.S. medical centers from February to December 2015.

The data generated through the study can be used as indicators of nutritional status, predictors of morbidity and mortality, and can serve as proxy measurements when total body weight is difficult to obtain by traditional means.

“Weight is the single most important predictor of newborn mortality and an essential piece of information for therapeutic decision-making,” Dr. Abdel-Rahman said. “Though a weighing scale remains the universal gold standard for obtaining weight, there exist a number of settings wherein access to a functional, calibrated scale is limited.”

Dr. Abdel-Rahman subsequently used the data to develop a weight estimation strategy for infants in cases where scales are unavailable, or when their use is impractical, such as when infants are connected to monitoring or life-support equipment in the neonatal intensive care unit. The related publication, A Weight Estimation Strategy for Preterm and Full-term Infants, was recently published in Global Pediatric Health. A separate PTN study is currently evaluating a prototype of this weight estimation device.

This work was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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