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Understanding Your Child’s Growth Chart

Many Pediatricians are, or have been, guilty of something similar to the following discussion with a parent about their child’s growth.

“Ok, here is Johnny’s growth chart. It looks good.” says the doctor as he hands her the paper. The conversation paused while she is trying to understand the graphs.

“Well… what do these lines mean?” she replies.

“Those are normal growth lines. The middle one is the 50th percentile. That’s what we want. That’s good.” he spouts back from rote habit, still writing on Johnny’s chart and not missing a beat and never looking up.

“So where’s Johnny on the chart? Is his line good?” she presses.

“Oh, yes, yes. He’s just under the 50th percentile… and that’s good.” he again responds without looking up.

“Ok…” she replies as she hides her confusion behind a facade of an understanding smile. Intimidated by the white coat the exam ends with no more understanding about her child’s growth than when the exam began.

What I intend to accomplish in this article is give you a clear understanding of what you are looking at when you are analyzing your own child’s growth chart. Is your child’s growth ‘Ok” or not! Continue reading