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New WHO child growth charts have been adopted in the UK, covering the period from birth to four years. Rosie Dodds explains.
Following international recognition that growth charts for infants did not reflect the physiologically normal growth of breastfed babies, the WHO carried out an extensive longitudinal and cross-sectional study to develop new growth standards.
These are now being brought in all over the world and have been adopted in the UK this year (see bottom box).
The WHO growth standards present the range of ideal weight, length and head circumference for a child, from birth to the age of four years.1
They are intended to monitor the growth of all children, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and type of feeding.
Only healthy babies in relatively affluent circumstances, who were exclusively breastfed and whose mothers received healthcare and did not smoke, were included in the data used to draw up the standards.2
This is in contrast to previous UK charts, which plotted the growth of babies without regard to …