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Accuracy of Nelson and best guess formulae in estimation of weights in Nigerian children population

AO Omisanjo
AE Orimadegun
FO Akinbami


Background: An alternative method of estimating children’s weights, when direct weighing is impracticable is the use of age-based formulae but these formulae have not been validated in Nigeria. This study compares estimated weights from two commonly used formulae against actual weights of healthy children.
Methods: Children aged 1 month to 11 years (n= 2754) were randomly
selected in Ibadan, Nigeria using a two-stage sampling procedure. Weight of each child, measured using a standard calibrated scale and determined using Nelson and Best Guess formulae, were compared. Demographic characteristics were also obtained. Mean percentage error (MPE) was calculated and stratified by gender and age. Bland-Altman graphs were used for visual assessment of the agreement between estimated and measured weights. Clinically acceptable MPE was defined as ±5%.  Descriptive statistics and paired t test were used to examine the data. Statistical level of significance was set at p = 0.05.
Results: There were 1349 males and 1405 females. Nelson and Best Guess formulae overestimated weight by 10.11% (95% CI: -20.44, 40.65) in infants. For 1-5 years group, Nelson formula marginally underestimated weight by -0.59% (95% CI: -5.16, 3.96) while it overestimated weight by 9.87% (95% CI: 24.89, 44.63) in 6-11 years. Best Guess formulae consistently overestimated weight in all age groups with the MPE ranging from 10.11 to 30.67%.
Conclusion: Nelson and Best Guess formulae are inaccurate for weight estimations in infants and children aged 6-11 years. Development of new formulae or modifications should be considered for use in the Nigerian children population.

Keywords: Measured weight, Best Guess formula, Nelson formula, Mean percentage error

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eISSN: 1597-1627