Evaluation of Infant Growth (An)
WHO Working Group on Infant Growth (WHO/NUT/94.8)
Document produced by the WHO Division onNutrition
Technical Units
Order Number    19300067 Format    E-book collection (PDF)
Price    CHF    12.00 / US$    14.40 Developing countries:    CHF    8.40
English     1994        83   pages
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Summary
Alerts clinicians, researchers, and public health professionals to weaknesses in the current international reference used for over a decade to monitor the growth and nutritional status of infants. The document reports the research findings of a WHO study designed to assess the growth patterns of infants fed according to current WHO recommendations, and the relevance of such patterns to the development of growth reference data.
Among its objectives, the study aimed to determine whether currently used reference data are an adequate tool for assessing infant nutritional status, screening for problems, and targeting interventions. The study specifically questions whether the infant portion of the NCHS-WHO reference, which is based on the Fels Longitudinal Study on the growth patterns of predominantly Caucasian, middle-class, artificially fed infants, should continue to be used to assess the adequacy of infant growth. The question takes on particular importance in view of both the many established benefits of breast-feeding, and growing evidence of significant healthy deviations from currently accepted growth references.
The study assessed the growth of breast-fed infants living under favourable environmental conditions indifferent parts of the world. In one of its most important conclusions, the study found that infants fed according to WHO recommendations and living under conditions that favour the achievement of genetic growth potential grow less rapidly than, and deviate significantly from, the current reference. While it is probable that differences in growth patterns in the first 4-6 months are due mostly to technical inadequacies of the current reference, this is unlikely to be true of growth differences in later periods. The report placed particular emphasis on the risks associated with misdiagnosis resulting in premature introduction of complementary foods.