September 7, 2016

How to read a growth chart

Childhood growth is a strong sign of health. In order to monitor growth and development, all children should have their height and weight plotted on a growth chart at every trip to the doctor's office. This helps to provide a picture of the child's growth and an opportunity for parents and the medical team to measure changes over time.

All children with significant changes in their body mass index (ratio of their height to their weight) should be examined. Rapid weight gain early in life increases the risk for obesity later, and is an opportunity to look at the child's and the family's habits. Hormones and specific diseases such as hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, and growth hormone deficiency are rarely causes of weight gain and are all linked to slowed linear growth. Thus, careful plotting of the child's height and weight on their growth curve is an important and inexpensive test to screen for these less common diseases. The main causes of growth vary by age. While genetics are important, other factors play a stronger role. These include healthy eating, timing of puberty, sleep, and daily physical activity.

At the UW Health Pediatric Fitness Clinic, our team works carefully to evaluate a child's medical state, as well as, their habits related to nutrition and exercise. We will work together with you and your child to promote healthy growth and development.