Percentile growth chart is a graphic presentation of expected growth in infants & children. Pediatricians routinely utilize these charts to monitor children's growth. We even have percentile charts to follow fetal growth.
Over all parameters of child's growth evaluation, we lay utmost importance on only three - height, weight and head circumference. When these three parameters are measured regularly, they work well for monitoring children’s growth pattern - an important indicator of child health.
Moreover, if the measurements are plotted on a growth chart specific for age and sex of the child, they get compared with the international standards for the same age and sex.
Percentile charts to monitor child growth are prepared by the international organizations like CDC and WHO to monitor growth of children.
They are based on evaluation of healthy children from a cross-section of the world population, who meet following criteria of child health:
The values of growth parameters are variable. This means that no single value can either be called normal or abnormal.
Therefore, the world cross-sectional data on children’s growth pattern is scaled into 0-100 ranks: The values obtained are divided into 100 percentiles.
Note that percentile is not the same as percentage.
Percentile, also known as centile, is a statistical term, where as percentage is a mathematical term.
Example: If a child falls on 10th percentile for his weight on the growth chart, then it means that there are yet 10 percent values lower than that of the child, and not 10 percent children.
Regular monitoring of child's growth parameters over a period, generates a growth curve, which shows how the child is progressing in that particular parameter (height/weight/head circumference), both individually and in relation to international standards.
A single reading cannot determine child's growth pattern:
Please note that an individual growth parameter is variable, but the rate of growth is not. The growth rate is same for all children in good health.
However, you can expect some bumps and plateaus on a normal child’s growth chart due to growth variations, but it is best, if attended to by a
child health provider.
Charting the growth pattern of your child at regular intervals works as a great tool in your hands to prevent long term effects of growth disorders.
Percentile shift on the chart unveils oncoming growth disorders and the hidden chronic diseases of childhood.
These graphs are also correlated with child’s nutritional adequacy. Although, an increase in child’s weight is a welcome feature, watch out if it is associated with falling height percentile.
If so, check on specific BMI growth chart for the child and meet your doctor to rule out silent hormone disorders like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian disease. Remember the quotation “a stitch in time saves nine”!
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Between 0-36 months
Between 0-36 months
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