New growth charts for school age children launched

Published: 21 May 2012

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have been working with the University of Glasgow to produce new growth charts.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have been working with a team from the University of Glasgow to produce a new set of growth charts.

The new growth charts are designed for children aged 2 to 18 years of age and are designed to be more simple, accurate and relevant than previous editions and will feature a BMI lookup, puberty assessments and an adult height predictor.

Growth charts are constructed using measurements from a large number of children at different ages to create a model of children’s development. By comparing a child’s growth against the normal range of measurements for other children of the same age and gender, paediatricians can predict whether a child is developing normally.

The new charts combine data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) growth standards up to age 4 years and the  UK 1990 growth reference from 4 -18 years.

They also boast several new features, including:

  • A BMI centile lookup and plotting grid

A high BMI is the best way of identifying children at risk of future obesity, but it requires use of a calculator and separate BMI charts. Using the new charts, health staff will now be able to use BMI to assess whether a child is overweight as a matter of routine.

  • Scales to estimate adult height and compare with parents’ height

Parents often want to know how tall their child will be as an adult, while doctors use parents’ heights to assess whether growth is within expected limits.  However the calculations required for this are complex. The new scales will be both quicker and more valid statistically. 

  • A simplified way of assessing puberty without the need  for intimate examinations 

The addition of measures of puberty will make spotting premature or delayed puberty much easier for healthcare professionals and make assessments far less awkward for young patients

Project lead, Professor Charlotte Wright, Professor of Community Child Health at the University of Glasgow’s School of Medicine, and a Consultant Paediatrician at Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow, said:

“The new charts allow doctors and nurses to quickly identify any abnormalities in a child’s development based on some very simple height and weight measurements.  The charts will be simpler to use, while producing information that is more relevant and more accurate than ever before.”

The charts are for use by healthcare professionals, but equivalent charts for parents to use at home are due to launch later in the year.


For more information please contact Nick Wade in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 7126 or at

Notes for editors:

Further information and training materials on growth charts are available at:

  • This chart is mainly intended to assess the growth of school age children. It combines data from the UK 1990 growth reference for children at birth and from 4 -18 years(1), with the WHO growth standard for children aged 2 years to 4 years(2).
  • The growth of children under 2 years of age should be plotted on the more detailed UK-WHO 0-4 years growth charts.


First published: 21 May 2012

<< May