Maternal health better basis for baby growth standards

According to a growing body of evidence by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers and others, charts measuring babies’ healthy development are more effective as a diagnostic tool if they are based on the health of mothers, rather than on a broad population snapshot.

A recent study by the  Intergrowth-21st consortium, for which HSPH’s Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative and Maternal Health Task Force, was a scientific advisory committee member, found that babies across the world are born at roughly the same size if their mothers are healthy. In a study in the Lancet, the researchers published new international standards for measuring children’s growth.

In a December 19, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, Marie McCormick, Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, commented on these and other findings. The problem with using the standards of a particular country or population for growth charts is that certain characteristics — such as U.S. babies becoming heavier — become enshrined as the norm, she said.

Taking Measure of Growth Charts (Wall Street Journal)

Growth, size of babies worldwide remarkably similar (HSPH News)