Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baby Weight - what is ideal

Over the 4th of July holiday I was able to visit with my 10wk old niece. She's steadily growing, and loves to interact with all the new faces and objects around her. Expecting a boy in a few months, it got me to thinking about ideal weight & growth, and somewhere along the way I spotted a news article about the standard growth tables.

In 2000, the US CDC released updated tables in use by pediatricians all across the nation. These tables are freely available, and every parent has probably seen them (copies here).

Then in 2006 the World Health Organization released their own growth charts (Media page here and detailed chart pages here).

The CDC subsequently has posted this statement on their website.
The Department of Health and Human Services (CDC and NIH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics convened an expert panel in June to consider using the new WHO charts versus the CDC charts. The panel compared the 2000 CDC growth charts to the new WHO charts and examined how U. S. children might be assessed differently using the two references. Guidance will be developed for appropriate use of these growth charts for monitoring growth within the US Population.
An expert panel was formed in 2006, but so far they have not posted any results on the website.
The WHO charts show a lower weight gain than the US charts. This difference is not small either, at 12 months old, the WHO charts average is 21.1lbs, while the CDC charts are 22.7lbs. That is a difference of 7.5%. My non-scientific survey (looking around at travelers, passing through airports each month), I would tend to agree that European children show less "baby-fat" than US infants. There are also several references on the CDC and WHO websites to lower weight gain after 2 months for breast fed infants. CBS recently did a show on early weight gain and the risk for obesity later in life. Sounds like more research is coming, as well as some detailed questions for the pediatrician after birth.

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