The AAP weighs in: Kilograms required

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

Last week*, I wrote about a small study from Pakistan where researchers showed that a very cheap, easy intervention—handwashing—led to sustained, measurable, and significant improvements in the intellectual and motor abilities of third world children. Really, quite impressive. These scientists showed that it doesn’t take a huge wad of cash to make a big difference. Hopefully governments and NGOs will pay attention, to fund these kids of efforts that can make the most impact on the most vulnerable children.

It’s a funny contrast, haha, with today’s tidbit from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): they’ve now endorsed an official statement, making it the declared policy of the AAP, that scales should only be programmed in kilograms, and weights should only be measured in kilograms, and electronic health records should only allow weights to be recorded in kilograms.

I’ll admit, my office still uses pounds and ounces. I know, metric measurements are internationally recognized and more sciency, but I’m more used to pounds, and my parents are more used to pounds, and my patients are used to pounds. If I’m talking about healthy weight with a patient, I don’t want to be fooling around translating what I say into numbers that make sense. Healthy weights are important. The units in which they’re measured? Not so much. We need to make sense to each other, and we ought to use whatever unit of weight communicates most clearly with our patients.

There’s got to be something more important for the AAP to be doing than hectoring pediatricians into buying scales that can’t measure pounds. Honestly, the cost of a new equipment could probably buy enough soap to improve the developmental outcomes of entire neighborhoods of children. AAP: let’s keep our eyes on children’s health instead of the type of scales we’re using, ‘k?

*EDIT: OK,  sorry about that. The post was that was going to run last week didn’t run… so this first paragraph really doesn’t make any sense.  I’ll post about the handwashing study tomorrow, so then this link will work. I know, I need an editor.

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