From squirming infants to clumsy instruments, getting accurate measurements of the height or length of young children can be challenging. Now the NCS, working together with university scientists across the country, has found another method.
NCS and its research partners have demonstrated that measuring the length and width of the ulna (the forearm bone) at its widest part is a good substitute for measuring the full height or length of newborns, infants, or young children. The method is quick, reliable, and reduces stress on participants.
Previous studies have shown that ulna measurement in persons ages five to more than 65 is a reliable predictor of height. The NCS pilot study, which enrolled a diverse group of children, is the first to use the measurement as a substitute for traditional height/length measurements in children less than five years old.
During the measurement, the child sits comfortably in his or her caregiver’s lap while an NCS data collector uses a ruler to take the reading. Since many of these measurements will take place in participants’ homes, the approach has the added benefit of eliminating the need for bulky equipment.
The current NCS Vanguard pilot is testing similar methods to measure ulnar length, using paper and measuring tapes. Findings from the research project and from Vanguard pilot testing will guide ways to measure growth in the Main Study and help provide comfortable, easy ways to track physical development.