Paediatric Reference Intervals: Current Status, Gaps, Challenges and Future Considerations

Monsurul Hoq, Sue Matthews, Susan Donath, Carlin John, Vera Ignjatovic, Paul Monagle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Establishing paediatric reference intervals (RIs) is a challenging task due to difficulties in subject recruitment, collection of adequate blood volume, and the inherent physiological changes of many biomarkers with age. Despite these challenges, several national and international initiatives have demonstrated: (a) the feasibility of prospectively designed paediatric RI studies; (b) the development of continuous RIs; and (c) the comparison of reference values across analyser types to harmonise paediatric RIs. Whilst these studies have improved the interpretation of paediatric test results and compliance with international accreditation (ISO15189) requirements, several gaps and challenges in translating current paediatric RIs into routine laboratory practice remain. Future priorities for paediatric RI studies include: (a) determination of the impact of discrete versus continuous RIs, analyser-specific versus harmonised RIs, and prospective collection versus data mining on the proportion of results outside the RIs; (b) understanding the clinical implications of analyser-to-analyser variation in reference values and use of evidence-based paediatric harmonised RIs where applicable; (c) adaptation of laboratory information systems to incorporate continuous RIs; (d) further understanding of the biological variation in paediatric biomarkers; (e) studies to address the paucity of accurate data
for neonatal RI development; (f) periodic demonstration of RIs being clinically ‘fit-for purpose’; and (g) agreement and policy updates for use of modern, best practice statistical methods in estimation of paediatric RIs. Furthermore, in vitro diagnostic manufacturers may require incentivised paediatric RI studies and publications through co-ordinated grants and collaboration at end-user sites to reduce the burden on sole users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Biochemist Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • paediatric
  • reference intervals
  • HAPPIKids


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