growth percentile charts explained

Child growth percentile charts have been used since 1977 when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) introduced them as a tool for pediatricians to measure and monitor a child’s growth. For children zero to two years of age, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a new growth standard in 2006 that is currently used today. These infant percentile charts allow physicians to compare one child’s growth to the full range of optimal growth.

Growth percentile charts are gender-specific and compare information, including:

  • Length-for-age
  • Weight-for-age
  • Weight for length
  • Head circumference

These child growth charts are just one tool that a pediatrician will use to evaluate the health of a child. At each visit the pediatrician will measure:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Head circumference

The information gathered is then placed on to the growth chart grid and compared to the normal range. It’s important to note that there is a wide range of what is considered normal. In fact any infant percentile can be considered normal, as long as a child continues to follow that growth percentile or above. If a child’s growth follows the curve of the chart, it indicates that they are getting the correct nutrition and their growth is progressing as expected.

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If a child continues to drop in percentile on their child growth chart, this could be cause for concern. Dropping may indicate that they are not getting adequate nutrition or that further testing should be done to evaluate what may be impacting their growth.

It is important to ask your pediatrician questions about your child’s growth and development, including any concerns you may have about their overall health.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.