[Growth curves from birth to 6 years of age: growth in weight, height and cranial circumference according to sex]

Arch Pediatr. 1999 May;6(5):520-9. doi: 10.1016/s0929-693x(99)80558-2.
[Article in French]


The growth supervision of children using growth curves is a widespread and useful tool in general pediatric practice. In France the latest reference curves are rather ancient, therefore it seemed to us interesting to re-examine some growth parameters and to compare them to the current reference data.

Patients and methods: The studied sample was composed of 7,000 children from the Rhône-Alpes region in France who were seen for a school health check-up. Anthropometric measurements (35,000) related to weight, height and cranial circumference of these children aged from 0 to 6 were selected from their health booklets. Centile curves for these three variables were drawn from these measurements using the LMS method, which is specifically suited to these types of data.

Results: If height and cranial circumference can be considered as normally distributed, weight is markedly skewed to the right, reflecting a high prevalence of children with heavy weight. Comparison with current references data shows more or less similar results for weight, height and cranial circumference: the medians and the 2.5 centile are constantly higher in our sample than those of the reference data (the discrepancy increasing with age). The differences are more important regarding the part of the distribution which concerns the highest values: overall, the 90th centile of our distribution corresponds rather closely to the 97.5th one of the current reference data. Thus, at 6 years of age, the 97.5th centile of the reference weight distribution for girls is 23,400 kg, while it is estimated at 27,770 kg in our sample. One should take in account the different characteristics of the two studies to interpret these differences.

Conclusion: The aim and use of such growth curves is discussed, together with recent computer applications in this field.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • France
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Reference Standards
  • Sex Factors
  • Skull / anatomy & histology
  • Skull / growth & development*
  • Weight Gain / physiology