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Children’s growth is a very important marker of their overall health and development. It’s probably one of the single most important ideas we have of children’s overall health. So anything that affects children’s nutrition or general health will almost certainly have an impact on their growth – both in the short-term and perhaps even in the long-term. Growth assessment is one of the easiest ways to confirm the health and nutrition of children, because changes in health and nutrition almost always affect growth.
Children’s growth is quite easy to measure. It needs accurate measurement of their weight and then their height or length – and in infants and young children, their head circumference. It is important to remember that growth charts are not a diagnostic tool, but rather contribute to forming an overall clinical impression for the child being measured. Growth assessment involves measuring of weight, length or height (and in infants their head circumference) followed by accurate plotting on a growth chart.
As of March 2013, NHMRC have recommended for Australia, the use of WHO growth charts, for children between birth and two years. And the CDC charts which we have been using will continue to be in use for children over two years.
Some States and Territories will choose to use different growth charts. Some are already using WHO for all age groups. But that’s current policy in Australia.
This website has been designed to introduce health professionals to the WHO charts and to review the evidence around both the WHO charts and growth assessment in general. And to also include some practice tips for everyday use.