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New Pediatric Weight Chart Will Ease Parents’ Minds

Worrying that your child is growing or eating enough? You are not alone. This is a top concern for many parents and it compounded by the use of one-size-fits-all weight and height charts in the doctor’s office.

For years, parents have fretted when their little one is pronounced “under-weight” and many have been advised to add fattier foods or to even stop nursing and use formula to add on weight to their baby. But why when a child is otherwise healthy?

The charts have traditionally excluded the idea that different ethnicities may just be different sizes. For example, comparing the size of a South Asian baby to a Caucasian baby can sometimes be apples to oranges. This sounds like common sense and researchers have finally agreed.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has published a study online that shows the use of ethnic-specific charts would be far superior for diagnosing babies as small for gestational age (SGA). The association of SGA with conditions such as hypoglycemia and increased infection rates has been an increased source of worry for parents receiving the diagnosis.


Unfortunately, with the traditional charts, many children are misdiagnosed. This can cause considerable undue stress and anxiety for parents and even unnecessary changes in a child’s diet. There is a new push to update and implement charts with ethnic averages taken into consideration.  The hope is that the new charts can more accurately determine if a baby is underweight or not.

While medicine has done so much good, there are some things that caregivers should listen to their intuition about. Ask for a second opinion if it doesn’t add up for you! There is no harm in asking questions if it will help you understand and lessen the anxiety of a diagnosis.

If your child is developing well and has several wet or soiled diapers a day, chances are they are eating well and growing. The reliance of one-size-fits-all charts and graphs is an old fashioned way of thinking that may do more harm than good for you and your baby!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. The thing I always wondered about growth charts is….if the North American population of children is significantly overweight, why are we using “average” as ideal? Do you have any idea about that? (I guess it applies to older children more than babies.)

    September 24, 2013
    • Very true. Growth charts typically put a child in a “percentile” that shows how a child compares to his or her peers in height/weight, but if the majority of their peers are overweight, then is a growth chart the best way to track your child’s development? This article is interesting because maybe growth charts aren’t the best method due to accuracy. I see a lot of research that the BMI is a better judge of this and discussing this number with a pediatrician (it is how most adults track body mass).
      Maybe even clothing size could be a better way for parents to understand. I also see that usually when a parent is concerned it’s because they think their child is too small, not the other way around. SO much to be said on this topic!

      September 24, 2013
    • I’m going to post this on my FB and see if others have some comments/opinions on this topic! I’ll let you know.

      September 24, 2013

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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