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Height and weight chart

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Height/weight chart

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Growth charts are used to compare your child's height, weight, and head size against children of the same age.

Growth charts can help both you and your health care provider follow your child as they grow. These charts may provide an early warning that your child has a medical problem.

Growth charts were developed from information gained by measuring and weighing thousands of children. From these numbers, the national average weight and height for each age and gender were established.

The lines or curves on growth charts tell how many other children in the United States weigh a certain amount at a certain age. For example, the weight on the 50th percentile line means that one half of the children in the United States weigh more than that number and one half of the children weigh less.

WHAT GROWTH CHARTS MEASURE

Your child's provider will measure the following during each well-child visit:

Beginning at age 2, a child's body mass index (BMI) can be calculated. Height and weight are used to figure out the BMI. A BMI measurement can estimate a child's body fat.

Each of your child's measurements is placed on the growth chart. These measurements are then compared with the standard (normal) range for children of the same sex and age. The same chart will be used as your child grows older.

HOW TO UNDERSTAND A GROWTH CHART

Many parents worry if they learn that their child's height, weight, or head size is smaller than those of most other children the same age. They worry about whether their child will do well in school, or be able to keep up in sports.

Learning a few important facts can make it easier for parents to understand what different measurements mean:

Some changes to your child's growth chart may worry your provider more than others:

Abnormal growth on the growth charts is only a sign of a possible problem. Your provider will determine whether it is an actual medical problem, or whether your child's growth just needs to be watched carefully.

References

Bamba V, Kelly A. Assessment of growth. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 27.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, National Center for Health Statistics. CDC growth charts. www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/cdc_charts.htm. Updated December 7, 2016. Accessed April 6, 2021.

Cooke DW, DiVall SA, Radovick S. Normal and aberrant growth in children. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 25.

La Charite J. Nutrition and growth. In: Kleinman K, Mcdaniel L, Molloy M, eds. The Harriet Lane Handbook. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.

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Review Date: 2/2/2021  

Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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