Age-specific reference ranges are essential for correct interpretation of laboratory tests. Only with accurate and relevant age-appropriate reference ranges can any test result be correctly assigned as being normal or abnormal. Reference ranges are expressed as the mean and boundary encompassing 95% (between the 2.5th and 97.5th centiles) of the normal population. For all laboratory tests, reference ranges need to be established under identical conditions that a clinical test is to be performed (same reagents, same analysers and the same assay techniques). Frequently, age-appropriate references ranges are not available and the clinical laboratory relies on reference ranges established from different populations, using different assay techniques, different reagents and analysers.
Proper medical assessment and care of children is vitally dependant on both the availability of accurate laboratory tests and reliable reference intervals to help guide the interpretation of test results. The use of adult normative data or non-validated paediatric data is known to lead to misdiagnosis of children. By using these reference ranges, the clinical laboratory runs the risk of incorrect interpretation of tests results that can directly result in misdiagnosis in the community. Despite the obvious need, paediatric-specific reference intervals remain inadequate or unavailable for many analytes.
We are aiming to collect blood samples from around 5000 children between birth and 18 years, so we can establish normative data for age appropriate reference intervals in haematology, immunology, and biochemistry for the paediatric population for RCH and for laboratories throughout the state of Victoria.
The HAPPI Kids Study is being fully funded by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.