, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 286-292
Date: 29 Mar 2011

Growth Assessment in Clinical Practice: Whose Growth Curve?

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Differences in growth curves can influence the diagnosis of under- and overnutrition, and the interpretation of adequate growth following nutrition intervention. This effect is notable when comparing the World Health Organization (WHO) 2006 Growth Standard and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2000 Growth Reference for infants and children to 59 months of age. Important differences relate to conceptual approaches for generating growth standards to describe what population growth should be, compared to a reference of what growth is. WHO included only term infants exclusively or predominantly breast-fed beyond 4 months, and data for infants and children indicative of excess adiposity and growth failure were removed. Thus, fewer children are diagnosed with poor weight gain, and more with excess adiposity, using the WHO Growth Standard than when using the CDC Growth Reference. Adequate growth is based on proportional height and weight gains that track along growth curve trajectories. Use of the WHO curves should assist in prevention of inappropriate intervention or overfeeding in young children.