Growth charts – what do they tell us and how to read them?

Krivulja rasta grafikon zdrava beba

The growth chart shows the growth of babies, infants and children in terms of age, length (or height), weight and head circumference. Before starting, it is important to emphasize that one should never compare any child and his growth rate because each child is an individual for himself. The most important thing is that the child is progressing well, that he is happy, satisfied and healthy.

The charts help doctors, pediatricians to monitor the child’s progress and record his growth. There are different graphics for girls and boys, for newborns and for older children. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set growth standards that are followed by doctors in Croatia. They show the growth of babies, children in the first five years of life. Using these charts, your doctor or pediatrician can compare your child with his or her peers.

Not every child will be as tall or heavy as his peers, but it is important that his or her growth is recorded over the years and monitored from birth.

What are percentile curves and how to “read” them?

Not every child will be as tall or heavy as his peers, but it is important that his or her growth is recorded over the years and monitored from birth. You and your doctor or pediatrician can follow it. Your baby will be measured at birth, and after that, the measurements will be repeated once a month or every subsequent visit to the pediatrician to monitor how it grows. Don’t worry if their weight increases day by day – that’s normal.These are curves that compare your child’s height and weight with the standards prescribed by the World Health Organization for that age. Eg. for a child of a certain age and weight you will be given guidelines for movement growth, see if it is above, below or average and how his or her height and weight will move during growth. If your baby is at the 50th percentile of height or weight, he is exactly on average for his age.

Below or above that means it is below average or above average in terms of height and weight. If the baby is below the 5th percentile or above the 95th, it is necessary to look for the causes of below-average or excessive growth.

Height of children
If your baby was born prematurely the age on the graph should be corrected until the second year of life. The charts can be followed until the child is 18 years old and at any time your doctor can point out some deviations and, if necessary, recommend additional tests to determine if everything is OK with the growth.

You should also be aware that some other factors can affect your child’s weight gain or loss, such as diarrhea, which can reduce a child’s weight in a very short time, and you may notice significant changes in the graph. If your child’s percentage changes significantly – for example, if it falls by two percentiles, talk to a pediatrician or GP who will assess your child’s growth trend to determine if there is cause for concern.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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