Simple color coded devices for triage always come first on our list at Maternova. In humanitarian settings a quick, lightweight band to wrap around an arm and make a referral decision is a lifesaver.
### MUAC tapes used to screen pregnant women
As mentioned in a prior blog post, MUAC tapes are used to assess the malnutrition status of pregnant women. The mid upper arm circumference has been shown to correlate well with Body Mass Index (BMI) and the MUAC does not change much over the course of a pregnancy. Overall the measure indicate protein reserves. Though there is not a firm consensus on the cutoff value, studies have used a range from 21 cm to 23.5 cm for pregnant women in a humanitarian setting.
### MUAC tapes can predict low birth weight babies
Beyond their role in assessing the nutrition status of pregnant mothers, the MUAC tape can
also be used to assess women at risk of low birth weight babies.
A [study from this year indicates that there is no consensus on a cutoff but that a cutoff of 23 cm would be a way to identify more women at risk of delivering low birth weight babies (http://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/which-anthropometric-indicators-identify-a-pregnant-woman-as-acutely-malnourished-and-predict-adverse-birth-outcomes-in-the-humanitarian-context/)
Some sources note that the MUAC tape can be used to assess intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). The Sphere Project uses "MUAC <20.7cm as a cutoff for severe risk and <23cm as a cutoff for moderate risk. Suggested cut-off points for risk vary by country and range from 21cm to 23cm.
Of further note, the MUAC has been used in some studies to track women for obesity in pregnancy Obesity puts a woman at risk of many health complications with moderate to severe impact on both mother and fetus. One study found that the MUAC had a sensitivity and specificity of 76% and 91% respectively. The study suggests 33 cm as a cutoff point-- above which women are identified as obese.