Background: The UK has advocated a policy of screening childrens growth opportunistically. Such a policy has merit if measurements are performed and the data easily retrieved to enable a possible referral for specialist assessment.
|Height measured||Weight measured|
|N||No. (%)||P value||No. (%)||P value|
|All children||200||25 (12.5%)||||103 (51.5%)|||
|< 2 years||18||1 (5.6%)||0.71||6 (33.3%)||0.14|
|≥2 years||182||24 (13.2%)||97 (53.3%)|
|Outpatient areas||120||18 (15%)||0.28||26 (21.7%)||<0.001|
|Inpatient areas||80||7 (8.8%)||77 (96.3%)|
|Paediatric areas||70||10 (14.3%)||0.66||63 (90%)||<0.001|
|Non-Paediatric areas||130||15 (11.5%)||40 (30.8%)|
Aim: To analyse the effectiveness of opportunistic growth measurements in children attending a large UK hospital for clinical reasons other than growth concerns.
Methods: Two hundred of 77 146 clinical episodes (58% in non-paediatric areas) over a 12-month period, each representing a different child, were randomly selected: 20 in paediatric outpatient areas; 50 in Paediatric Inpatient areas; 100 in non-paediatric outpatient areas; 30 in non-paediatric inpatient areas (<2 year-olds from outpatient areas only). The medical records were reviewed to determine whether height and weight had been measured and recorded. The number of episodes with measurements was added. Comparisons were made between measurements recorded in children below and above 2 years of age and between the different clinical areas (statistically significant if P<0.05).
Results: Mean (±S.D.) age was 7.86 (4.54) years for the total group and 0.86 (0.59) for the 18 children below 2 years of age. The number of clinical episodes with height and weight measurements is tabulated as follows:
Conclusions: The opportunity to check a childs height during hospital attendances is infrequently used despite equipment available. Weight was measured in almost all inpatients only for reasons of calculating drug doses. Education of health professionals is required to emphasise the value of growth as an index of health. The current strategy for growth screening in the UK merits a re-evaluation of all healthcare episodes involving children.