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Int J Legal Med. 2013 Mar;127(2):481-9. doi: 10.1007/s00414-012-0777-4. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

A test of the Whitaker scoring system for estimating age from the bones of the foot.

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  • 1Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee, DD1 5EH, UK.


Within the literature pertaining to skeletal age estimation, there is a paucity of statistically validated methods of age estimation from the foot. Given the prevalence of recovery of pedal elements in isolation, it is critical that methods exist to facilitate the estimation of age from this anatomical region and that those methods be tested to ensure they are reliable, repeatable and statistically robust. A study was carried out to determine the validity of using the Whitaker method of age estimation from the bones of the foot as a tool in forensic age estimation within a modern Scottish population. Two-hundred and sixty radiographs from individuals aged between birth and 18 years were assessed according to the Whitaker method; the results were compared with chronological age. The results of this study suggest that the method of Whitaker et al. is highly unlikely to estimate the age of females below 16 years of age or males below 18 years of age correctly. When the methodology was altered to correspond with best practice principles of age estimation, the estimated age ranges were found to be too wide to be of practical value in forensic age estimation. The results of this study therefore suggest that the Whitaker method for estimating age from the bones of the foot should not be used in forensic age assessment.

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