Children grow at different paces. The growth chart calculates average from given data so there’s no need to worry if your baby does not fall within the percentiles as long as they’re growing steadily.
Medically Reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS on Aug 31, 2022
The Child Growth Chart Tool measures a child's height and weight based on the average percentiles set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as figures determined by your local health ministry. This tool is for information only and does not take into consideration other factors such as genetics or special health conditions. As such, this should not replace your doctor's assessment and diagnosis. We advise you to consult with your child's pediatrician or local health provider for a more accurate assessment.
What is a child growth chart?
A growth chart helps you, your pediatrics to keep track of how your child is growing over time. The height, weight, head circumference, and BMI of a child can be compared to the expected parameters of children of the same age and sex to determine whether the child is growing appropriately.
How to read the child growth chart? (Percentile)
Percentiles are measurements that show where a child is compared with other kids. On the growth charts, the percentiles are shown as lines drawn in curved patterns.
When you plot a child’s weight and height on the chart, you will see which percentile line those measurements land on:
– The higher the percentile number, the bigger a child is compared with other children of the same age and gender, whether it’s for height or weight.
– The lower the percentile number, the smaller the child is.
For example: A child on the 5th percentile weighs less than 95% of other children of that age. A child on the 90th percentile weights more than 90% of other children that age.
Why is it important for growth monitoring of a child?
Monitoring a child’s height, weight, and head circumference using a growth chart over time allows doctors and parents to see if a child is growing too slowly or too fast – which might indicate nutritional or other health problems.
It is not the actual percentile/Z-scores that is important. Your child’s pediatrician is tracking is how your child’s growth is changing over time. Is the child following their curve, indicating healthy growth? Or is there a change in their growth chart pattern, which could be a sign of health problem? This is extremely important as it can detect early changes in a child’s growth.
Where do this standards come from?
These standards were developed using data collected in this WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study.
The WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) was undertaken between 1997 and 2003 to generate new growth curves for assessing the growth and development of infants and young children around the world. The MGRS collected primary growth data and related information from approximately 8500 children from widely different ethnic backgrounds and cultural settings (Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman and the USA).
The new growth curves are expected to provide a single international standard that represents the best description of physiological growth for all children from birth to five years of age and to establish the breastfed infant as the normative model for growth and development.