Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition - Feeding practices including micronutrient deficiencies prevention, control of wasting, stunting and underweight Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition
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Management of Malnutrition in Children Under Five Years

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Home  »  Management of Malnutrition in Children  »  Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition  »   Diagnosis of Acute Malnutrition  »  Anthropometric Measurement Techniques  »  Taking the Weight-for-Height/Length

Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition

Diagnosis of Acute Malnutrition

Anthropometric Measurement Techniques

Taking the Weight-for-Height/Length

Because of its complexity and proneness to mistakes, Weight-for-Height/Length should be taken only at treatment-facilities before admission into therapeutic/supplementary feeding programs.

It is recommended not to use this anthropometric measurement technique in primary health care settings and communities.

Taking the Weight-for-Height implies the following steps:


Taking the Weight

There are many types of scales that can be used to take weight. The spring hanging scale (SALTER) is commonly used for taking weight of children under 9 years. This scale can weigh up to 25 kg and is graduated by 0.1kg (100g) increments.

Steps for taking the weight of a child using Salter Scale:

  • Hook the scale to a tripod or a stick held horizontally by two people at eye level.
     
  • Suspend the weighing pants from the lower hook of the scale and readjust the scale to zero.
     
  • Undress the child and place him/her in the weighing pants.
     
  • Hook the pants to the scale.
     
  • When the child is settled and the weight reading is stable record the weight to the nearest 100g. Make sure that nobody touches the pants or the scale during weighing. Ensure that the child hangs freely without holding onto anything.
     
  • Read and announce the value from the scale. The assistant should repeat the value for verification and record it immediately.


Test the scale with a fixed weight (10 kg) regularly. If the measure does not match the weight the scale should be sent for recalibration.


           Weight Pants                                            Spring (Salter) scale

Taking the Weight


Salter hanging scale

Salter hanging scale

Electronic scales, if available, can be used for children that can stand.

Steps for taking the weight of a child/adolescent using electronic scales Steps for taking the weight of a child/adolescent using electronic scales:
  • Place the electronic scale on a flat, level surface.
     
  • Check and readjust the weight reading to zero.
     
  • Undress the child.
     
  • Make him/her stand on the middle of the scale's surface.
     
  • When the child is settled and the weight reading is stable record the weight to the nearest 100g. Make sure that nobody holds the child during weighing and that the child stands freely without holding onto anything.
     
  • Read and announce the value from the scale. The assistant should repeat the value for verification and record it immediately.

 

Steps for taking the weight of a caregiver with child using electronic scales Steps for taking the weight of a caregiver with child using electronic scales:
  • Place the electronic scale on a flat, level surface.
     
  • Check and readjust the weight reading to zero.
     
  • Undress the child.
     
  • Ask the caregiver to stand on the scale's surface in the middle and record their weight to the nearest 100g when the caregiver is settled and the weight reading is stable
     
  • Hand the child to the caregiver.
     
  • When the caregiver is settled with the child and the weight reading is stable record the weight to the nearest 100g.
     
  • Read and announce the value from the scale. The assistant should repeat the value for verification and record it immediately.
     
  • To obtain the weight of the child: subtract the recorded weight of the caregiver alone from the recorded weight of the caregiver + child. For example: if weight of caregiver + child is 60Kg and weight of caregiver is 55Kg than the weight of the child alone is 60Kg-55Kg = 5Kg.

 
Taking the Height

This measurement is taken for children two years and above and/or for those greater than 85 cm.

Steps for taking accurate height measurements:

  • Set the measuring board vertically on a stable level surface.
     
  • Remove the child's shoes and any head-covering.
     
  • Place the child on the measuring board, standing upright in the middle of the board. The child's heels and knees should be firmly pressed against the board by the assistant while the measurer positions the head and the cursor. The child's head, shoulders, buttocks, knees and heels should be touching the board.
     
  • Read and announce the measurement to the nearest 0.1cm.
     
  • Record and repeat the measurement to the measurer to make sure it has been correctly heard.

 

Taking the Height


Taking the Length

This measurement is taken for children below two years of age and/or for those who are less than 85 cm.

Check the child's birth date from official documentation (e.g. health card, immunization card, birth certificate) provided by the caregiver.

Steps for taking accurate length measurements:

  • Place the measuring board horizontally on a flat, level surface.
     
  • Remove the child's shoes and any head covering.
     
  • Place the child so he/she is lying down and face up in the middle of the board.
     
  • Allow the assistant to hold the sides of the child's head and position the head until it is touching the head board.
     
  • Allow the measurer to place his/her hands on the child and firmly hold the child's knees together while pressing down. The soles of the feet should be flat on the foot piece, toes pointing up at right angles.
     
  • The measurer should immediately remove the child's feet from contact with the footboard with one hand while holding the footboard securely in place with the other.
     
  • Read and record the measurement as shown in diagram below.

Taking the Length


If the child is more than 85 cm and is too sick or too weak to stand up, you must measure their length while they are lying down and remove 0.5 cm from the measurement.

If the child has skeletal deformity, don't take this measurement. Children with physical disabilities require specialized measurements which are not covered in these guidelines.



16 June, 2014
 


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