Understanding Growth Charts for Children

There are different growth charts for children of different ages, but most of these charts are divided into two major age brackets; one for 0 to 2 years and another for 2 to 18 years. These growth charts, which can also be found in pediatric clinics and hospitals in Singapore, include the recommended height, weight, and head circumference for each age.

Separate growth charts for children with special needs are also available to help monitor the child’s health and development.

Ideal Body Weight

It is accepted among medical practitioners that the abnormalities in growth and development of a child is associated with chronic diseases and can even indicate a child’s chances of getting a certain disease when he/she becomes an adult. For example, adults who are obese were more likely to have had a different growth trajectory than adults who never had problems with their weight as children.

For the ideal body weight, the doctors use the body mass index (BMI) chart or what is also known as the weight-for-height computation. However, some medical practitioners disagree with the use of a BMI chart, because it does not take into account the changing body proportions in children. Instead, they use charts that include blood chemistry measures, fat versus lean mass, total body potassium, and dual energy measures.

Special Growth Charts

As already mentioned, there are separate growth charts for children with developmental disabilities from ages 0 to 36 months and 2 to 18 years. These guides, however, do not include comparisons for weight, height or length, BMI, and head circumference of children older than 2 years. The special growth charts are used alongside the standard charts to determine if the child has a tendency to become overweight or underweight.

There are also charts for the fetal measurements, but these should be compatible with the mother’s ethnic composition. The development is monitored by comparing it to growth percentiles through examinations of the fetus in different gestational ages. The result of the fetus’ weight divided by his/her length will determine if he/she is growing normally.

Poor Growth Identification

The existence of different growth charts for girls, boys, children with diseases or developmental disabilities, and children who were breastfed or not, led most hospitals around the world follow the growth charts set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO, there are three indicators of poor growth for a child aged younger than 2 years; namely, length, weight, and weight relative to length. Some infants need more measurements such as weight-for-age, head circumference-for-age, length-for-age, and weight-for length. Children older than 2 years on the other hand, are monitored using either length and stature or length, BMI-for-age, and measure stature.