HLMD – Height Length Measuring Device

Getting a reliable measurement of length or height is essential for monitoring the overall health of a patient. However, reliable data collection for this indicator continues to be a challenge in the field. To address this challenge we recommend the use of a portable stadiometer and a measure mat. Intended to be easily assembled and accurate for in the field use these two devices and be stored together in one case. The use of one accurate HLMD (height length measuring device) is very difficult. We have found only one solution that is made of wood and harder to transport than the two devices together. UNICEF had identified a need for this one product and required ideal product performance in accuracy and portability. There may be a development of devices that are fit for UNICEF’s purposes, for eventual use in the field. The HLMD project communicated the need for development of new and/or improved devices to measure height and length of infants and children. They have communicated this need to developers and manufacturers with the future estimated demand for procurement for in the field studies.

Anthropometric variables are used to measure the physical properties (primarily size and shape) of the human body, used to evaluate prognosis and guide medical intervention of chronic and acute diseases. UNICEF uses anthropometric indicators to monitor the various ways in which malnutrition can manifest in children and infants, including stunting, wasting and overweight. Stunting refers to linear growth retardation due to chronic or recurrent malnutrition, which often coincides with failure of a child to grow cognitively. This results in children measuring as too short for their age and the conditions associated with stunting are often irreversible. Wasting, also referred to as acute malnutrition, is a condition in which children are too thin for their height, due to rapid weight loss or failure to gain weight. Children with moderate and severe wasting are at increased risk of death due to weakened immunity and long-term developmental delays, but treatment is possible. Overweight refers to being too heavy for one’s height, due to over consumption of calories compared with levels of activity. Overweight puts children at increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (e.g., diabetes) later in life. At the population level, anthropometric indicators are often used in comparative analysis and to monitor progress of nutritional programmes. It is therefore important that data are accurately reported and comparable between countries. To obtain population-level data on the above forms of malnutrition, anthropometric indices commonly include three major indicators of child growth.

Common anthropometric indicators of child growth

Low height-for-age is used to identify stunted linear growth. This is reflective of suboptimal health and/or nutritional conditions, which at the population level tend to be associated with poor socioeconomic conditions.

Low weight-for-height is used to identify wasting or thinness in children associated with acute undernutrition. This may be the result of a recent rapid weight loss. Conversely, high weight-for-height is used at the population level as an indicator of overweight.


Low weight-for-age is a composite indicator, which comprises elements of stunting and wasting, but can be complicated to interpret in populations where overweight is seen along with stunting.

Although the number of children under age 5 suffering from stunting and wasting has steadily declined since the year 2000, progress is slow and the international community is far from being on track to achieve the World Health Assembly (decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO)) targets set for 2025, and the SDGs set for 2030. In 2017, an estimated 151 million children globally under age 5 were stunted, 38 million were overweight, and 51 million were wasted.

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