Child weight, height and growth is an important marker of health and development.
Poor growth in-utero and early childhood is associated with short and long term effects including:
- increased rate of childhood infection
- the development of 'life-style' diseases such as:
- coronary heart disease
- high blood pressure
Over-nutrition and obesity is also linked to poorer health outcome. Both infant body size during the early years of life and infant growth velocity have been shown to be associated with risk of later overweight and obesity in childhood and adulthood.
Growth monitoring is the single most useful tool to assess the health and nutritional status of children. This is because disturbances in health and nutrition almost always affect growth.
Growth assessment is quick and non-invasive and provides valuable information about the general health and well being of the child. At times it can be perceived by some health care professionals as a low priority, as reflected by absence of functional equipment in some settings for weighing and measuring children.
Growth assessment can reassure parents that their child is growing well if the child is gaining weight steadily; however too-frequent focusing on weight gain overly can lead to anxiety and unnecessary referral to secondary services if a child is weighed too frequently.