Annals of Nigerian Medicine

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Identification of a surrogate anthropometric measurement to birth weight in high‑risk low birth weight newborns in a developing country

Bindu T. Nair, Uma Raju, R.N. Mehrishi


Background: The study of anthropometric measurements of newborns at birth allows rapid evaluation of the neonate who has suffered abnormal intrauterine growth. Thus, neonates at increased risk of postnatal complications can be followed‑up and given greater care.

Objective: The aim of our study was to identify a simple anthropometric measurement which can act as a surrogate to birth weight (BW) in a resource‑poor country like India where the weight of majority of the newborns is not taken.

Materials and Methods: We studied all consecutive singleton newborns with gestational age between 28 weeks and 42 weeks delivered at a large hospital in North India between January 2015 and December 2015. The total number of new‑borns included in the study was 3000. All data were entered and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 15.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).

Results: The mean BW of 3000 neonates was 2387 g (standard deviation ‑ 560). The mean crown heel length, head circumference, chest circumference (CC), mid‑upper arm circumference, mid‑calf circumference, and mid‑thigh circumference were 45.9 ± 3.4 cm, 32.6.5 ± 2.3 cm, 29.5 ± 2.7 cm, 10.1 ± 1.3 cm, 10.5 ± 1.3, and 14.1 ± 1.2 cm, respectively. There was a positive correlation of BW to all such anthropometric measurements with the highest correlation coefficient for CC (r = 0.73). The optimal cutoff points for CC and arm circumference to identify low BW (LBW) newborns were ≥29.5 cm and ≥10.1 cm, respectively.

Conclusion: Measurement of CC is a simple, easy, cheap, and reliable method for identification of LBW. Hence, it can be easily made use of identifying high‑risk newborns by our health‑care workers in rural settings of developing countries like India.

Keywords: Anthropometric measurements, chest circumference, high‑risk newborns, low birth weight
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