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World offered one baby growth chart

Friday September 5th, 2014

Baby growth charts around the world can now be measured against the same standards, it was announced today.

The standards will reveal whether babies and their mothers have adequate health, nutrition and medical care, according to the British developers.

The Oxford University researchers say the common standards can be applied to all 120 million babies born across the world.

They are intended to replace some 100 different growth charts in use around the world.

The project, reported in The Lancet, involved studying nearly 60,000 births in cities ranging from China, India and Brazil to Kenya, the UK and the USA.

It was backed by funds from Microsoft founders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Stephen Kennedy, of Oxford University, UK, said: "We have produced the first international standards describing how babies in the womb should grow when they are provided with good health care and nutrition, and are living in a healthy environment.

"We now need to work with politicians and clinicians at regional, national and international levels to introduce the new tools into practice around the world."

Fellow researcher Professor José Villar said: "Across the world, this will help identify signs of under-nutrition, stunting, wasting, and overweight at an earlier stage to implement preventive actions to reduce long-term health problems, such as diabetes and hypertension.”

And Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, from The Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, added: "These new standards for foetal growth and newborn size, and standardised methods for comparing length/height and head circumference for gestational age, are the best ways to compare populations across the globe."

The announcement was welcomed by the UK Royal College of Midwives.

Janet Fyle, from the college, said: "These standards will also help midwives to improve monitoring pregnancies, especially in terms of identifying foetal growth retardation early and recording the movement of foetuses more accurately.”

International growth standards for growing babies. Lancet 5 September 2014 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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