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Emerg Med Australas. 2019 May 30. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.13318. [Epub ahead of print]

Accuracy of parental estimate of child's weight in a paediatric emergency department.

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Joseph Epstein Centre for Emergency Medicine Research, Western Health - Sunshine Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



To determine the accuracy of using parental estimate of a child's weight compared to actual weight in a paediatric emergency setting.


Prospective, observational study. Age, weight and height data were collected from children aged 1 month up to 11 years with an Australian Triage score of 3 or higher. This was compared with a parent weight estimate. Analysis is descriptive.


A total of 450 children were studied with a mean age of 4 years 4 months. A total of 85.3% of parents were willing to provide a weight estimate (n = 384). The mean difference between the parent estimate (where provided) and the actual weight was 0.33 kg (measured weight > estimated; 95% confidence interval [CI] -6.9 kg to +7.6 kg). There was 75% agreement within 10% of the measured weight (95% CI 71-79%) and 92% agreement within 20% of the measured weight (95% CI 89-95%). Weight was more commonly underestimated than overestimated. Children of Polynesian/Pacific ethnicity were less likely to have an accurate parental weight estimation.


Parent estimate is an accurate weight estimation method when parents are willing to give an estimate. There is ethnic variation in accuracy that should be taken into account when applying this method.


children; emergency; weight estimation


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