Anthropometry is the study of comparative measurement of the human body. A number of precision instruments are available for accurate anthropometric studies. A decision to use these instruments will depend upon the degree of precision that is desired or required.
The pediatrician, physician, medical geneticist, dysmorphologist, or clinician interested in taking precise physical measurements may want to use anthropometric instruments. However, adequate training is necessary to use these devices properly (Fig. 2.2). Most clinics will have an upright measuring device (stadiometer), a supine measuring table, and an infant scale as well as a regular scale. In growth clinics skinfold calipers, orchidometers, and other types of calipers will probably be available. In research centers, such as those dealing with reconstructive surgery of the face, precision instruments for technical measurements are used.
Figure 2.2 Anthropometric instruments.
In general, the accuracy required to create standard curves in anthropological research under laboratory circumstances will be much greater than the precision that can be expected from the physician who is measuring an unwilling, screaming child in practice. Use of precision instruments usually demands a great deal of cooperation from the patient.
Alternatively, precise physical measurements can be extrapolated from a standardized photograph in a technique called photogrammetric anthropometry. This method is costly, requiring standardized cameras and computarization, and again it is not an everyday, practical approach. Clinical geneticists frequently take photographs to document clinical features. A standard set includes face, front, and side; total body, front, back, and side with palms forward; close-up of hands and feet, and any other unusual features. However, without a reference standard of size in the photograph, they cannot be used for accurate measurements.
For the "field" or ward examination the ordinary tape-measure will be most frequently used. It is important to note that metallic or disposable paper tapes are more reliable for long-term use than cloth tapes. Cloth tapes tend to wear out and become stretched over a period of time. If a cloth tape is used, it should be checked from time to time against a metal or wooden standard.
For a long time there has been a dual measurement system—most European countries used metric units (meters and grams), whereas many physician in the United States used Imperial units (inches and pounds). However, the metric system has become internationally accepted in medicine. In this book, to avoid confusion, most graphs will have both systems millimeter (mm) -i- 25.4 = inch (in) inch (in) -i- 0.039 = millimeter (mm)
centimeter (cm) -=- 2.54 = inch (in) inch (in) 0.394 = centimeter (cm)
centimeter (cm) + 30.5 = foot (ft) foot (ft) -f- 0.033 = centimeter (cm)
meter (m) + 0.305 = foot (ft) foot (ft) -f- 3.279 = meter (m)
meter (m) -5- 0.915 = yard (yd) yard (yd) + 1.093 = meter (m)
1 foot (ft) = 12 inches (in); 1 yard (yd) = 3 feet (ft); 1 yard (yd) = 36 inches (in)
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
l' I ' I 'l l' l' I 'l 'l l' I ' I 'l I l' I ' I 'l l' I ' I 'l 'l l' I 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 230 240 250
Figure 2.3 Linear conversions.
of units. Fig. 2.3 provides the methods to convert centimeters and inches, and Fig. 2.4 gives pounds and kilograms.
Any documentation of measurement(s) should be given together with the age of the individual, the date on which the measurement was obtained, the method used to obtain that measurement, and the name of the person doing the measuring. This makes it easier to compare the values obtained and enables one to anticipate the possible failures of the method employed. In addition, reports or descriptions should include percentiles (or standard deviation) for easy reference and comparison.
Figure 2.4 Weight conversions.
gram (g) -h 28.4 = ounce (oz) ounce (oz) + 0.035 = gram (g) kilogram (kg) -f- 0.455 = pound (lb) pound (lb) -f- 2.20 = kilogram (kg)
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