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Medicine dosing by weight in the home: can parents accurately weigh preschool children? A method comparison study
  1. Céire Costelloe1,
  2. Alan A Montgomery1,
  3. Niamh M Redmond1,
  4. Margaret Fletcher2,3,
  5. Sandra Hollinghurst1,
  6. Tim J Peters1,4,
  7. Alastair D Hay1
  1. 1Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, NIHR National School for Primary Care Research, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
  3. 3University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  4. 4School of Clinical Sciences, Southmead Hospital, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Céire Costelloe, Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, NIHR National School for Primary Care Research, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK; ceire.costelloe{at}


Objective To determine the accuracy with which parents can estimate preschool children's weight using home scales in order to calculate antipyretic dose.

Design Cross-sectional, method comparison study.

Setting and participants 156 preschool children aged 6 months to 6 years recruited from primary care and the community to an antipyretic strategies trial and managed at home.

Comparison and outcome measures Research nurse weight estimate using Seca 835-2 digital paediatric scales compared with parental weight estimate using usual home scales.

Results Parents of 62 (40%) preschool children had home scales. Research scale estimated weights were heavier than home scale weight estimates, with a mean difference of 0.41 kg (95% CI −0.24 to 0.74 kg), with 95% limits of agreement of −2.44 to 1.47 kg.

Conclusion Weight can be estimated accurately enough to calculate antipyretic medicine doses by the minority of parents having scales that can be used to estimate their child's weight.

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  • Funding The PITCH study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme (project number 03/09/01). The final study design, data collection and analysis, interpretation of results and paper writing was the sole responsibility of the authors. For the duration of the trial, AH held a postdoctoral award from the National Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development (NCCRCD), Department of Health. The views and opinions expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR HTA, NCCRCD or Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Bath Research Ethics Committee, UK (reference number 04/Q2001/197).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned by the NIHR HTA; externally peer reviewed.