CDC Growth Charts

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In practice, clinicians use growth charts as standards rather than references. The CDC growth charts consist of a set of charts for infants birth to 36 months of age and a set of charts for children and adolescents from age 2 to 20 years. The charts for infants include sex-specific percentile curves for weight for age, recumbent length for age, head circumference for age, and weight for recumbent length. The CDC recommends that the WHO growth charts be used for children younger than 2 years of age, and the CDC charts for all children older than the age of 2. The WHO charts are based on information from a study engineered specifically for development of growth charts. These charts are standards that reflect how an infant should grow given optimal conditions. They also use breastfeeding as the standard method of feeding for optimal growth.2

To help establish an accurate assessment of how a child is growing, multiple measurements should be taken and plotted on a growth chart during the first 2 years of life. Ideally, measurements over time should be taken at regular intervals, such as every month or every 3 months. Regular plotted measurements can show drastic increases or decreases in
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Preterm infants are more likely to require intensive care and to have higher mortality rates after birth due to incomplete development. This is also true for infants who are born at a low birth weight (LBW), defined as less than 5.5 pounds (2,500 g). High mortality rates and risk of cognitive and motor disabilities are associated with LBW; for example, research shows a potential link between LBW and development of autism spectrum disorder.4 LBW is a major concern of healthcare providers worldwide, with the prevalence of LBW infants higher in developing countries, but it is still a major concern in the United States. The CDC reported a slight decrease (about 1%) in LBW infants from 2012 to

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