Data from a longitudinal study of 1342 Zambian children aged between 0 and 60 months are used to derive reference standards for mid-upper arm circumference. To determine the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value of the arm circumference measurement as an indicator of nutritional status, associations between arm circumference and other anthropometric and clinical indicators of nutritional status are presented. Although none of the anthropometric indices accurately reflects the clinical judgement of nutritional status, arm circumference is shown to be similar in accuracy to weight for age and to weight for length as an indicator of clinical malnutrition; it provides a viable alternative to these more cumbersome measurements for use in field surveys.
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