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New WHO Growth Standards for 0-5 years

The WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) was undertaken between 1997 and 2003 to generate new growth curves for assessing the growth and development of infants and young children around the world.

The MGRS collected primary growth data and related information from approximately 8,500 children from widely different ethnic backgrounds and cultural settings (Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman and the USA).

The new growth curves are expected to provide a single international standard that represents the best description of physiological growth for all children from birth to five years of age and to establish the breastfed infant as the normative model for growth and development. The standards describe normal child growth from birth to 5 years under optimal environmental conditions and can be applied to all children everywhere, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and type of feeding.

The first set of the WHO child growth standards (0-60 months) will be released in April 2006 for the following indicators:

These charts are complemented by windows of achievement for the following six gross motor milestones: sitting without support, standing with assistance, hands-and-knees crawling, walking with assistance, standing alone, walking alone.

A second set of growth standards will be available later for the following indicators: arm circumference-for-age, head circumference-forage, subscapular skinfold-for-age, triceps skinfold- for-age. Subsequently, child growth velocity standards will be developed for length/height, weight, BMI, arm circumference, head circumference.

The new growth standards will help interpret anthropometric indices and growth surveillance in all contexts

A training course is under development on skills required to use and interpret the growth charts, and when to intervene if a child is experiencing deficient or excessive growth. The course is designed for use over 4 days and targets child health care providers. Online links permit users to download or view an anthropometry training video, which describes the MGRS measurement procedures and how to calibrate the measuring equipment. It is available in English, French and Spanish.

Software (WHO Anthro 2005) will also be available containing an anthropometry calculator, individual assessment, nutritional survey and a questionnaire development tool. The software (Windows PC and PocketPC/PPC) will be available in English, French and Spanish. It will be released simultaneously with the official launching of the WHO child growth standards in April 2006.

A copy of the training video as DVD or VHS (in NTSC or PAL format) can also be ordered from the following address: Dr Mercedes de Onis, World Health Organization, Department of Nutrition 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland

The new growth standards will be launched at the WHO website, see http://www.who.int/childgrowth/

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New WHO Growth Standards for 0-5 years. Field Exchange 27, March 2006. p20. www.ennonline.net/fex/27/who

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