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Parents sometimes obsess over their child's weight and height percentile as if growth charts were a straight line that they couldn't get out of. However, there are many factors that lead to the little one fluctuating around them without posing a medical problem. In this article we are going to demystify these happy percentages.
Weight and height are just numbers. The first thing to keep in mind is that a growth curve is one more way to assess the health of the child and not the only one that indicates whether he is well or badly fed. In addition, no curve can be equated with the actual development of a person because these data are the result of adding and obtaining the average of the weights and heights of many of them.
An isolated percentile indicates nothing, but how many little ones weigh or measure, more and less, than he within the group of healthy children of his age. For example, if a baby's weight is 15, it means that 15% of the others who are healthy have a weight less than that percentage.
The 3rd percentile for weight and height is commonly used as the absolute alert limit. In these cases, pediatricians do recommend conducting studies to rule out possible diseases. Although, this data only shows that 3% of healthy children have a weight or height below this figure and they do not have to have any pathology.
Although it seems like common sense, the obsession of some parents makes them forget that genetics also determine what the child is like. The most common is that the constitution of the children is similar to that of their parents. So, sometimes you just need to be aware of the physiognomy of each one.
During growth, a child can speed up or slow down his weight or height gain without involving a medical problem. In fact, babies fed only breast milk slow down their weight around 4-8 months, settling around the 50th percentile, without entailing any type of disease.
From birth to 2 years, the weight, height and percentile of the little ones are monitored in all controls, although there is no study that has shown that weighing and carving is useful. Furthermore, in Spain these exams are compounded by the handicap that most children –including those exclusively fed with breast milk– They are classified with growth charts that are based on data obtained from children with artificial milk.. Leaving aside this important sanitary gap, the fundamental thing is to know how to interpret correctly, and within each context, what these data indicate.
Obviously, if a child is continuously falling in the percentile after a certain moment, medical controls must be carried out. For example, some cannot digest formula or gluten well and begin to slow down their growth even though they do not vomit, have diarrhea, or skin rashes.
Nevertheless, an isolated percentile drop means nothing. It is necessary to take a good medical history in which the child's age must be taken into account, if he has started kindergarten, has had a baby brother, eats less because it is very hot, has had an infection or gastroenteritis, among other factors.
But the most important thing is how the child is seen in general. You have to pay attention to whether he is active, happy, if he plays as usual and if he maintains an interest in food. That is, you have to make a global assessment within your own circumstances.
Susana Torres.Collaborator of our site and lactation consultant
You can read more articles similar to The relationship between the child percentile and the child's health, in the Weight and size category on site.