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Friday, May 8, 2009

New growth charts for babies

BBC reported that the UK Government has recently adopted the WHO Growth Charts for infant growth. Prior to this, growth charts being used were based on formula fed babies. The WHO adopted new growth charts in 2006 and according to the technical study, the key standard is that these growth charts "explicitly identify breastfeeding as the biological norm and establish the breastfed child as the normative model for growth and development."

According to Prof. Charlotte Wright, professor of community child health in Glasgow and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (project lead for the new charts), the new growth chart will result in the doubling of the number of overweight babies. The new charts will definitely be welcomed by breastfeeding mothers. As Prof Wright said: "We realise that we have been probably worrying mothers unnecessarily about their child's weight with a knock on impact for breastfeeding. Mothers of small babies who were breastfeeding may have come under pressure to supplement their feeding. Babies who were already ideal are actually overweight. Parents are going to get an early warning that their children are at risk of becoming overweight."

The WHO released these growth charts in 2006. The UK has just recently adopted them, while it seems that the US has not yet adopted them since according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, the US growth charts were last updated in 2000. Click here for links to the 2006 WHO growth charts (I don't call them new since it's been 3 years since they were released).

It makes me wonder what growth charts Philippine pediatricians are currently using (I think they still use the old charts). I have met several nursing mothers who are often told by their pediatricians to "top off" or supplement with formula because their babies are gaining weight slowly. One mother was even advise to start on solids before the half-year mark if the baby will not gain XX number of pounds by this certain month.

My encounter with the growth charts came in the baby books given by formula companies to pediatricians. I guess we were lucky that Naima was naturally on the "heavy" side (owing to her dad's genes.. hehe) so being "off" the charts was never an issue with her and I was not told to supplement with formula. In fact, before she was 6 months and still exclusively directly feeding (I had not gone back to work yet), her pediatrician even told me that I should put her on a diet (which I never did). Hopefully, with the UK's adoption of the 2006 WHO Infant Growth Standards, the Philippines will also adopt these 2006 charts (or hopefully has already adopted it).

*Update: A breastfeeding mom, Kate Demetrio, who works at the Department of Health's National Nutrition Council, informed me that although the Philippines is still using the old growth charts, they are currently working on the adoption of these new infant growth charts based on breastfed babies for the Philippine health system. :)

1 comment:

Veronica Lee said...

Wow, great info. Thanks for sharing.

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