New Way to Measure Newborns?
Imagine being curled up in a fetal position for months and then suddenly being stretched out full length so someone can take a measurement. This current method is uncomfortable for infants, but researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a new way to measure newborns that eliminates stress.
At birth, medical staff typically are supposed to take three measurements: head circumference, length, and weight. These figures are critical as they provide baselines for physicians to track development and growth over time. However, the current approach to identifying length can be unreliable.
Now there may be an alternative approach to measuring the length of newborns, and it involves a computer. A team composed of experts at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and School of Engineering have utilized a stereoscopic measurement method that is newborn-friendly and at least as reliable as what staff are doing now.
New way to measure newborns
The new approach was tested using 54 newborns. Computer-operated digital pictures were taken of all the newborns as they were lying on their backs without any physical restraints. No radiation or light was involved that could harm the babies.
Software was then used to calculate the length of each infant by adding together four values that corresponded to four body segments from head to heels. These values were compared with traditional measurements.
Overall, the researchers discovered a mean average difference of only 0.2 millimeters between the two approaches. The apparent success of this computerized measuring method could be especially important for premature infants, not only for initial measurements but for monitoring growth while in an incubator. In fact, the investigators have already starting observing how this new measurement approach can be helpful in these situations.
Average newborn measurements
Do you know what the average measurements are for newborns in the United States? Doctors use the baseline figures to make certain determinations. For example:
Head circumference: 14 inches; helps doctors determine if the brain is developing correctly
Length: 20 inches; helps identify if bones are growing properly
Weight: 7.5 pounds; helps to determine if the baby is eating enough
Do any of us really know (or remember) what it's like to enter the world for the first time? Finding a new and less stressful way to measure newborns can be one contribution we make to an infant's first experiences.
Tel Aviv University