Growth Charts

Growth charts demonstrate the growth of a reference population and are used for assessment of individuals and groups of children.

Serial measurements of the child's growth are plotted on the growth chart to identify and assess patterns of growth. Single or 'one-off' measurements for individual children are usually less meaningful.

Growth monitoring is especially important during infancy for:

  • detection of growth faltering or excessive growth
  • assessment of the impact of illness and response to treatment
  • screening for high risk individuals.

For populations, single measures can be used for monitoring and surveillance of under or over nutrition, international comparison and evaluating effectiveness of nutrition programs.

Unusual or concerning patterns of weight gain and growth sometimes go unrecognised for various reasons:

  • Measurements taken incorrectly, plotted on a growth chart inaccurately, or not plotted at all, may lead to erroneous interpretation of growth patterns and missed or unnecessary referrals.
  • Growth assessment is not effective in improving child health unless what is revealed by the growth monitoring is discussed with the family. Information about adequate or inadequate changes in growth is used to reinforce or motivate positive nutritional and healthy lifestyle practices with the family.

Growth Charts used in Maternal and Child Health

In September 2010, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended using WHO growth charts to monitor growth for all children less than two years of age, and to continue to use the CDC growth charts to monitor growth for children aged two years and over. For more information see:

In 2011 'My Health and Development Record' (a revised Child Health Record) was released. This record contains the WHO and CDC growth charts. See Table 1 below.

Table 1. Growth charts in the Victorian My Health and Development Record

Age groupChart typeGirlsBoysCentiles
0 - 24 monthsWHO (2006)Head circumference
Weight for age
Length for age
Head circumference
Weight for age
Length for age

5th - 98th percentiles

2 - 18 yearsCDC (2000)Weight for age
Height (stature) for age
BMI for age
Weight for age
Height (stature) for age
BMI for age

5th - 98th percentiles