Is my child growing normally? Is there a major difference in height or weight when compared to other kids this age? Should they be taller, or stronger at this age? If you’re a parent, then you’ve asked yourself at least one or two of these questions. If you’re a parent-to-be, you will certainly be asking yourself these questions soon enough. A lot of these questions are determined by your baby’s growth, which is why as parents you need to know the importance of growth chart monitoring.
What Is A Growth Chart?
A growth chart is a simple set of approximate values. Pediatricians use it to compare your child’s height, weight, and head size against children of the same age and sex. Growth charts are also personalized – a boy will have different chart parameters when compared to a girl.
One set of charts is used for babies i.e. from birth to 36 months, while a different set is used for older kids and teens. Children who are born with disorders like Down’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome have different charts from those children who were born without those conditions.
Apart from tracking growth, a growth chart can also be used to predict the height and weight of a child, since most children follow a certain curve of growth. If the child deviates from their growth curve, then the pediatrician will likely investigate why that is happening.
A growth chart is made by plotting the parameter to be measured (Height, Weight, Head Circumference) on the Y-axis and the age of the child on the X-axis. Based on past data taken from other children, other curves are formed. There is a curve of diminished growth, and there is a curve of accelerated growth. Your child’s growth has to fall somewhere between the two extremes.
Understanding A Growth Chart
The curves on a growth chart serve as references of how your child should normally be growing. In order to be able to actually read and understand a growth chart, you need to get acquainted with a measurement unit called ‘percentile’.
If the weight of a 4-year-old child is at the 50th percentile, then it means that out of 100 children of that approximate age, 50 children are heavier than the child, and 50 are lighter. If they are in the 80th percentile then it means that only 20 children out of 100 are bigger than them, while they are larger than 80 of the selected 100 children. This system is also applied while measuring height and head size.
How Growth Indicates Health In Children
If the growth of your child is regular and matches the set references, then you can rest assured that your child is in generally good health. Children who are not in good health internally often show signs of diminished growth in height and weight.
Additionally, abnormal growth can often be an indication of malnutrition. Even if you’re certain that you’re giving your child proper nutrition, it is possible that your child hasn’t been absorbing the necessary nutrients from that food. And this development will not be apparent. However, if you monitor your child’s growth regularly, then spotting this kind of discrepancy is relatively easier.
Importance Of Growth Chart Monitoring
Worrying that your child might not be growing properly is part and parcel of being a parent. And these questions are really important too; sometimes it’s possible that your child might not be growing as well as you think. Often, these internal deficiencies do not make them sick. In the absence of obvious hints like illness, it’s possible to miss the cues and remain unaware.
If done right, growth monitoring can indicate a lot of things. If your child’s growth chart suggests that their weight and height and head circumference are ideal for a child their age, then that of course indicates that your child is growing completely normally. It also suggests that the child’s nutritional needs are being met, which means that you as a parent are doing an excellent job.
But the real, and perhaps the most essential importance of growth chart monitoring is the role it can play in potentially spotting disorders in the body.
How Can Growth Charts Indicate Problems
Growth monitoring can determine if the child is of the right weight for its age. If their measurement is not normal, they might fall under one of the below categories.
- Underweight – If your child’s weight falls below the 5th percentile, they can be considered underweight.
- Overweight – If your child’s weight falls between the 85-95 percentile then they can be considered overweight.
- Obesity – If your child’s weight falls above the 95th percentile then they can be considered obese. Keep in mind that your child could also suffer from an eating disorder if your concerns are around that area.
- Genetic disorders – Disorders like Turner’s syndrome, Noonan syndrome, and Prader Willi can become possible diagnoses if the height and weight percentile are below the 5th percentile since birth. The child may have Marfan’s syndrome or Klinefelter’s syndrome if the height is above the 90th percentile.
- Endocrine disorders – Excessive weight in children can be indicative of hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, and thalamic or pituitary disorders.
Don’t obsessively panic over your child’s growth chart as these are only possibilities. Your child might not be affected by any of these, but knowing this information can be critical while taking care of them. It can help parents and pediatricians adjust course so that your tiny one can come back to a normal growth pattern.
Maintaining and monitoring growth charts is a simple yet extremely useful process. All pediatricians follow it because they know the significance behind its results. You as a parent should also be aware of them. Search for a good pediatrician who will understand your concerns and the needs of your child. Not sure where to start the hunt? You can look for them on the ImmunifyMe app, as well as keep easy track of your baby’s vaccination schedule.
FAQs On The Importance Of Growth Chart Monitoring
What Is A Normal Growth Chart?
A growth chart of normal growth will show the child’s growth points closely following a percentile line. However, there is no reason to worry if it fluctuates a little. Pediatricians will only suggest corrective actions in certain cases. Two of these are if the growth rate crosses two percentile lines above the 90th percentile or falls two percentile lines below the 50th percentile.
What Is A Good Weight Percentile?
A good weight percentile has a very big range. Anything between the 5th percentile and the 85th percentile indicates normal weight for a child. Weight between 85 and 95 percentile signifies being overweight, and anything above the 95th denotes obesity.
What Are Growth Charts Based On?
Growth charts are based on observing the growth of a large number of regular children over a long period of time.