Height And Weight Percentiles In Boys And Girls: What Are They And How To Interpret Them?
The height and weight of children are one of the health indicators that most concern parents. Today they are known to be subject to multiple factors, from family genetics and the mother’s diet during pregnancy to breastfeeding and infant diet, which means that both weight and height can vary from child to child another depending on their living conditions. However, regardless of these variations, experts recognize that there is an adequate average of child weight and height for each age and sex: the percentile.
What Are The Height And Weight Percentiles?
Basically, the height and weight percentiles represent the weight and height values corresponding to each age, according to sex. These are reference values used by health professionals to assess the growth rate of children, from birth to around 8 years when child development normalizes.
Thanks to these values, it is possible to determine if the little ones are gaining weight at an adequate rate, lower or higher than the optimal one, and thus prevent disorders such as malnutrition and childhood obesity. They also make it possible to know if children are growing adequately, at a lower or higher rate than the average for their age, and thus correct alterations such as growth retardation.
How To Read The Percentiles For Height And Weight?
Reading the percentiles for height and weight isn’t really that complicated when you know what each axis and line means. In this type of tables, the horizontal axis usually represents the child’s age, while the vertical one graphs the weight or height. The intersection of these axes in the center of the table represents the percentile, represented by a line, which follows a staggered order from number 3 to 97.
To read a child’s height or weight percentile, find his age on the horizontal axis and find his corresponding weight or height on the vertical axis. Once the age and weight or height have been identified, a line is drawn from each axis until they coincide in the center of the table with one of the percentile lines. This will be the child’s height or weight percentile.
How To Interpret The Height And Weight Percentiles?
The percentile number obtained reflects the child’s weight or height compared to other boys or girls of the same age. For example, if a child has a 90th percentile for height, it means that compared to 100 other children the same age, 90 will be shorter than her and 10 taller. On the other hand, if a child has a 10th percentile of weight it will mean that, compared to 100 other children his age, 90 will weigh more than him and 10 less.
Generally speaking, a percentile around 50 means that a child’s height or weight is average compared to the rest of his peers. In contrast, a percentile below 50 means that your weight or height is below the average, and if the percentile is above 50, it indicates that you are growing above the average.
However, it is worth clarifying that having a low or high percentile is not synonymous with an alteration in development since all percentile lines are considered statistically normal. Only children who are above the 97th percentile because they are too tall or too overweight or who are below the 3rd percentile for being too short or thin will require further analysis.