Best Practice Growth Measurement

Assessment of the growth and the physical health of children is an important component of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service. The MCH Key Ages and Stages consultations provide an opportunity for the MCH nurse to review growth, provide information relating to growth and refer to appropriate agencies as needed.

In the 2010-2011 MCH Annual Report, counselling sessions about child growth accounted for 18 per cent of all counselling sessions with families about child health and wellbeing and six per cent of all child health and wellbeing referrals.

Anticipatory Guidance underpins the MCH Key Ages and Stages framework. It is intended to be complimented by opportunistic activity by MCH nurses, on the basis of their clinical judgement, in response to other parental concerns and nurse observation.

Best practice growth assessment requires accuracy in measuring and plotting. Small errors, particularly in measuring or recording growth parameters in young children can have a large impact on the growth assessment. For example, an error of 0.5 kg can result in a child being assessed as being on the 10th to less than the 5th centile.

Measurements are compared to a given reference chart to allow the practitioner to assess whether the child's growth is adequate, below or above that expected for his/her age.

Accurate weighing and measuring needs standardised techniques and equipment calibrated and serviced according to manufacturer's advice. See: Equipment for Weighing and Measuring Children (pdf - 103.56kb)

Child weight, length, height, head circumference and BMI are monitored in MCH practice as per Maternal and Child Health Service: Practice Guidelines 2009 (pdf - 791.74kb)

Measurement guidelines