The new WHO Child Growth Standards confirm that children born anywhere in the world and given the optimum start in life have the potential to develop to within the same range of height and weight. Naturally there are individual differences among children, but across large populations, regionally and globally, the average growth is remarkably similar. For example, children from India, Norway and Brazil all show similar growth patterns when provided healthy growth conditions in early life. The new standards prove that differences in children’s growth to age five are more influenced by nutrition, feeding practices, environment, and healthcare than genetics or ethnicity.
The new Standards are the result of an intensive study initiated by WHO in 1997 to develop a new international standard for assessing the physical growth, nutritional status and motor development in all children from birth to age five. WHO and its principal partner, the United Nations University, undertook the Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) which is a community-based, multi-country project involving more than eight thousand children from Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman, and the United States of America.
Since the late 1970s, the National Center for Health Statistics / WHO growth reference has been in use to chart children’s growth. This reference was based on data from a limited sample of children from the United States. It contains a number of technical and biological drawbacks that make it less adequate to monitor the rapid and changing rate of early childhood growth. It describes only how children grow in a particular region and time, but does not provide a sound basis for evaluation against international standards and norms.
The new standards are based on the breastfed child as the norm for growth and development. This brings coherence for the first time between the tools used to assess growth, and national and international infant feeding guidelines which recommend breastfeeding as the optimal source of nutrition during infancy. This will now allow accurate assessment, measurement and evaluation of breastfeeding and complementary feeding.
Please take time to look at the site and print out and share with other families, give as a part of a baby shower gift, as well as give a copy to your family practice doctor, pediatrician, nurse practitioner, etc. so that they can begin to utilize this more accurate and appropriate system for monitoring growth and development of our babies! For any of you who have been hassled about lagging growth of your healthy, happy breastfed baby, these standards will help equip physicians and other health care providers with the tools they need to more accurately track and assess growth and development!
(This information was taken from Geneva Press Release for WHO, April 2006)
To get more information or download a chart, please go to the following website: www.who.int/childgrowth If you would like more information on this or other family wellness issues, please e-mail Dr. Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-844-9355 and schedule a courtesy consultation for you and your family!