Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 39, Issue 7, July 2010

Proof of age required Estimating age in adults without birth records

Christine Phillips Shanti Narayanasamy
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Many adults from refugee source countries do not have documents of birth, either because they have been lost in flight, or because the civil infrastructure is too fragile to support routine recording of birth. In Western countries, date of birth is used as a basic identifier, and access to services and support tends to be age regulated. Doctors are not infrequently asked to write formal reports estimating the true age of adult refugees; however, there are no existing guidelines to assist in this task.
To provide an overview of methods to estimate age in living adults, and outline recommendations for best practice.
Age should be estimated through physical examination; life history, matching local or national events with personal milestones; and existing nonformal documents. Accuracy of age estimation should be subject to three tests: biological plausibility, historical plausibility, and corroboration from reputable sources.

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