Growth Charts for Children with Down Syndrome
Clinical Growth Charts
The clinical charts are shown in metric units (kilograms and centimeters). Each chart is available for boys and girls. Each chart shows the 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th percentiles. The available charts include the following:
For children from birth to 3 years of age:
- Weight in kilograms*
- Length/height in centimeters (length is measured unless the child can stand unsupported, in which case height is measured)
- Head circumference (measurement around a child’s head in the largest area)
*Weight percentile curves start at age 0 months; other “birth to 3 years of age” growth curves start at 1 month of age.
For individuals aged 2-20 years:
- Head circumference
1Body mass index (BMI) growth charts are available at http://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/clinical_charts.htm
2Please see the publication by Zemel at al. for body mass index (BMI) growth charts for a sample of children with Down syndrome
Methods and Development
For more information about the methods and development of the growth charts for children with Down syndrome, please see http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/10/21/peds.2015-1652.abstract. For a summary of the paper, please read these key findings.
The information below is provided to help you read and interpret the growth charts for children with Down syndrome.
What is a percentile?
Percentiles are the most commonly used indicator to assess the size and growth patterns of individual children in the United States. Percentiles rank the position of an individual by indicating what percent of the reference population the individual would equal or exceed. The reference population is the group of individuals whose growth patterns were used to develop the growth charts.
What is a z-score?
A z-score is a measure of how an individual relates to the average value for the reference population. A z-score has a direct relationship to percentiles. For more technical information about these scores and how they are calculated, visit http://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/growthchart_faq.htm.
My child is at or below the 5th percentile on a chart, what should I do?
If you are concerned about your child’s growth, talk with your child's healthcare provider.
Are there considerations I should keep in mind when using these charts?
Specialized growth charts, like these new growth charts for children with Down syndrome, provide useful growth references for children with Down syndrome, but may have some limitations. For example, for this study the researchers took growth measurements from a group of 637 individuals with Down syndrome recruited from medical and community locations, mostly from the Philadelphia area. These children might not be representative of all children with Down syndrome in the United States. For more information about the methods and development of the growth charts for children with Down syndrome, please see http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/10/21/peds.2015-1652.abstract.
Zemel BS, Pipan M, Stallings VA, Hall W, Schadt K, Freedman DS, Thorpe P. Growth Charts for Children with Down Syndrome in the U.S. Pediatrics. 2015 [epub ahead of print].
- Page last reviewed: January 7, 2016
- Page last updated: January 7, 2016
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