Anthropometric measures as a predictor of cephalopelvic disproportion

Helen Ann Burgess, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study compared three body measurements, height, hip width (bitrochanteric) and foot length, in 120 Hispanic women who had their first birth by cesarean section (N = 60) or by spontaneous vaginal delivery (N = 60). The objective of the study was to see if there were differences in these measurements that could be useful in predicting cephalopelvic disproportion. Data were collected from two public hospitals in Houston Texas over a 10 month period from December 1994 to October 1995. The statistical technique used to evaluate the measures was discriminant analysis. Women who delivered by cesarean section were older, shorter, had shorter feet and delivered heavier infants. There were no differences in the bitrochanteric widths of the women or in the mean gestational age or Apgar scores of the infants. Significantly more of the mothers and infants were ill following cesarean section delivery. Maternal illness was usually infection; infant illness was primarily infection or respiratory difficulties. Discriminant analysis is a technique which allows for classification and prediction to which group a particular entity will belong given a certain set of variables. Using discriminant analysis, with a probability of cesarean section 50 percent, the best combination to classify who would have a cesarean section was height and hip width, correctly classifying 74.2 percent of those who needed surgery. When the probability of cesarean section was 10 percent and probability of vaginal delivery was 90 percent, the best predictor of who would need operative delivery was height, hip width and age, correctly classifying 56.2 percent. In the population from which the study participants were selected the incidence of cephalopelvic disproportion was low, approximately 1 percent. With the technologic assistance available in most of the developed world, it is likely that the further pursuit of different measures and their use would not be of much benefit in attempting to predict and diagnose disproportion. However, in areas of the world where much of obstetrics is "hands on", the availability of technology extremely limited, and the incidence of disproportion larger, the use of anthropometric measures might be useful and of some potential benefit.

Subject Area

Obstetrics|Gynecology|Physical anthropology|Anatomy & physiology

Recommended Citation

Burgess, Helen Ann, "Anthropometric measures as a predictor of cephalopelvic disproportion" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9700037.