What is the Growth Chart and what does it mean?
A child growth chart is a tool used by doctors to monitor a child’s weight and determine adequacy of growth.
The most current charts were put out in 2000 by the CDC and utilized the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which collected the height and weight of the American population since the early 1960’s. They are not and should not be the only tool used to diagnose your child, however. Instead,they are tools that contribute to the overall clinical impression of the child.
The 2000 CDC growth charts consist of 16 charts, 8 for boys and 8 for girls. The charts include:
1. Weight for age percentiles at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th. The charts are for:
2. Length for age percentiles at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th. The charts are for:
3. Weight for length age percentiles at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th. The charts are for:
4. Head Circumference percentiles at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th. The charts are for:
5. Stature for Age at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 85th, 90th, and 97th. The charts are for:
6. BMI for age at the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 85th, 90th and 97th. The charts are for:
For more information or to download a specific child growth chart please go to CDC growth charts.
What does the child growth chart tell us?
Growth charts plot a child’s weight or height to see what percentile they are in. Percentiles rank the position of a child by indicating what percent of the reference population the child will equal or exceed.
For example, if a 24 month old girl plots at the tenth percentile weight for age on the child growth chart, that means she weighs the same as or more than ten percent of the reference population of 24 month old girls.
Of course, most children are not going to plot at the 50th percentile, and that’s OK. Between the 5th and 85% is considered normal.
When evaluating the health of your child, her doctor needs to look at a number of factors, including the size of you and her other parent, where the child plotted when she was younger and how well she eats. For example, if you are 5 foot 1 and 100 pounds, and your child’s father is 5’6 and 140 pounds, chances are your child is not going to plot above the 50th percentile.
If however, your child has been growing along the same curve at around the 25th percentile and all of a sudden she drops to the 3rd or 10th, there may be cause for concern, and certainly the reason needs to be investigated. If you are concerned about where your child plots and what you should do about it, speak to your child’s doctor or make an appointment with us for guidance.
If you'd like to know where your child is on the growth charts, and they are between 0-36 months, go here to plot them.