Friday, May 18, 2007

More About Measurements – And A Party!



Pizza, pop, cake, and game tokens.
Only a few minutes with each child and parent required.
It will be fast and easy!

DATE: Sunday, June 3, 2007
TIME: 3:00 to 4:30 pm (you can come any time during that period)
WHERE: Chuck E Cheese, 1512 Nations Drive, Gurnee, IL
DIRECTIONS: 847.249.1120 or

Contact Sherry with questions, ideas, or to RSVP. or 847.401.5832


Earlier this week I wrote about how measurements are used in the development of clothing. I discussed anthropometric data and the fact that extensive data exist for the general population, but not for people with Down syndrome. That’s what I’ll write about today. I was fascinated and captivated when I learned, during my research, of the existence of NHANES. I thought you might find it interesting as well.

We are all well familiar with news stories that discuss the health trends of the United States population – the rising obesity rates in the U.S., the fact that eating breakfast may protects kids against cavities, the increased use of vitamins and dietary supplements. But not many of us are familiar with the source of that information, or even that so much information could come from just one source. That source is NHANES, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the U.S. government, whose origins date back over 50 years.

The NHANES survey is conducted by the National Center of Health Statistics, under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services. It began as the result of The National Health Survey Act of 1956, with the intention of providing current statistical data on the amount, distribution, and effects of illness and disability in the U.S. Originally conducted on a periodic basis, and without the nutrition element of the program, the program is now a continuous survey. The specific testing battery is updated every two years based on current issues. Since inception the survey has collected data on over 130,000 people.

NHANES data has resulted in positive change in the U.S. For instance, early NHANES data indicated dangerously high blood levels of lead among Americans. In response, EPA mandated the phase out of consumer products that contained lead – most notably gasoline and paints. By the 1990’s only 4% of Americans had elevated blood lead levels. Cholesterol is another example. Due to cholesterol data collected via NHANES, the resultant understanding of the health effects of high cholesterol, medical advances, and changes in diet and life style, the number of Americans high cholesterol has decreased more than 13% in 40 years. Improved pre-natal health, a commitment to reduction of childhood obesity, there are many examples of the good outcomes of NHANES.

These days the survey examines approximately 5,000 Americans annually. The participants are randomly selected from 15 counties throughout the nation. The age of NHANES participants ranges from infancy -mere months old - to very senior elders - there is no upper age limit. Some populations, like those at risk for malnutrition or members of steadily-increasing populations, are oversampled. Oversampling means that those populations are tested in greater numbers than their proportion in the overall population.

The exam and patient interview, about 3 to 4 hours in duration, is conducted in a “mobile examination center.” That consists of four large trailers outfitted with all of the test equipment and medical professionals required to perform a large battery of tests. Four methods of evaluation are used: a physical exam, a dental exam, specimen collection and a personal interview.

An exhaustive array of tests and evaluations performed. The physical examination alone includes x-rays, audiometry, electrocardiography, bone densitometry, allergy testing, spirometry, and - most important for our purposes - body measurements. These measurements, nearly 20 in all, are the anthropometric data we’ve discussed.

Among other purposes, the anthropometric data are used to develop growth charts for boys and girls from birth to age 20 years. The charts are available to the public on the on the CDC/NHANES site. I had hoped that, given the practice of oversampling particular populations, there might be data specific to children with Down syndrome. No such luck. There are, however, growth charts for children with Down syndrome available on the National Down Syndrome Society web site. I haven't been able to find out who compiles the data, and how they source the data; I'm just glad the charts exist. There are three types of charts available: height, weight, and head circumference. The height and weight charts were very helpful to me in confirming the anecdotal evidence of a difference between children with and without Down syndrome. However, the data are not adequate to develop clothes that will properly fit children with Down syndrome.

That’s why we need body measurement data from you. If you're not nearby, I can send you a self-measuring kit with a tape measure, form, and instructions. (My contact information is in the party announcement at the start of this post.) Together we can create a database of anthropometric data for children with Down syndrome. If we can develop that database I will share it for research purposes because NHANES is evidence that such research and information can have positive impact.

Free Counters

Free Counter

No comments: