Growth Charts

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Learn how doctors determine a child's body mass index (BMI).

Childhood Obesity

An individual is overweight when their BMI is between 25.0-29.9. Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30.0. Many web sites have calculators to measure BMI (for example, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/). Measuring body fat may be done via skin-fold-thickness measurement, waist-to-hip-circumference ratio, and neutral buoyancy (water displacement) measurements. BMI is not used for children under 2 years of age, and instead growth charts should be used to identify any weight issues.

Growth chart facts

  • Growth charts provide a visual display of the rate of growth of an infant, child, or adolescent.
  • Infant growth charts document length, weight, and head circumference. Children and adolescent growth charts document height, weight, and BMI (body mass index).
  • Growth charts provide a unique long-term assessment of the overall health of the patient.
  • Growth chart abnormalities would include children either "not on the chart" or an unanticipated acceleration or deceleration of the child's rate of growth over time.

What are growth charts?

Growth charts are standardized graphs upon which a child's measurements may be plotted. This information allows a visual mechanism to compare the child's rate of growth over time (for example, months and years). This technique allows an assessment of how a child's rate of growth compares to his peer group as well as his own previous rate of growth. Cumulative measurements over a standardized block of time enhance the precision of such an assessment.

Length-for-age and weight-for-age percentiles chart for boys from birth to 36 months.
Length-for-age and weight-for-age percentiles chart for boys from birth to 36 months of age; SOURCE: CDC. Click to view larger image.

Length-for-age and weight-for-age percentiles chart for girls from birth to 36 months.
Length-for-age and weight-for-age percentiles chart for girls from birth to 36 months of age; SOURCE: CDC. Click to view larger image.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Children's Health & Parenting Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors