Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Growth Charts

Parents often wonder whether their children are growing at a normal rate and are at the “right” height and weight for their age. Growth charts are used to compare a child’s size and pattern of growth with a nationally representative reference sample of children the same age and sex. Growth charts have been used to monitor the growth of infants, children and adolescents in the United States for over 30 years. These charts provide growth curves for weight, length/stature (height) and head circumference. Health care providers use these charts as a clinical tool to assess the adequacy of growth in their patients.

Pediatricians use the charts at each well-child visit to document children’s growth. This helps them to identify major changes in a child’s growth patterns, which may indicate a potential health problem. Although most parents are familiar and comfortable with the traditional growth charts (i.e., weight and stature for age, weight for stature), the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends calculating and plotting Body Mass Index (BMI) for age and gender starting at age two to screen for overweight and obesity. BMI charts are publicly available to consumers, and you can use them to track your child’s growth.

A new feature of the revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Center for Health Statistics growth charts (2000) is the inclusion of body mass index (BMI) for age and sex. BMI, which is based on height and weight, is used to screen children (2 years and older) and youth for overweight and obesity. The BMI charts also can be used to identify children who are underweight. The information in this publication explains how BMI charts are used by health care providers to screen for potential weight problems that could lead to chronic health conditions.

BMI is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to estimate body fatness. BMI is calculated by dividing an individual’s weight in kilograms (kg) by the individuals height in meters (m) squared, or weight in pounds (lb) multiplied by 703, divided by height in inches (in) squared.

To down load the UF publication “Raising Healthy Children: BMI Charts” go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY119300.pdf An easy way to determine BMI is to use a BMI calculator available online. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a BMI calculator available at: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.

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