The mean age at which the diagnosis of growth disorders such as Turner's syndrome, growth hormone (GH) deficiency or true GH-dependent gigantism is established is still rather late in many countries around the world. In addition, the question of secular trends in a given population and the rate at which childhood obesity is increasing in industrialized countries make it mandatory to establish a time-adapted system to develop percentiles for body height, weight and body mass index (BMI) and also to develop a screening system for growth disorders. In 1998 we established a network, now involving more than 160 paediatric practices in Germany and seven paediatric endocrinology departments. Paediatricians record heights, weights and growth velocities of all children in their care and systematically feed the data into the database at our centre usually by mailing formatted, structured data tickets. Data are then continuously analysed at the centre and the paediatricians in the network are informed immediately about their individual patients' growth situations via phone or E-mail (feedback system). Regular annual conferences including structured reports, scientific presentations and discussion groups are organized for all participants at our centre. By May 2001, the data of 83,721 children and adolescents had been analysed. The mean values for height were 1-1.5 cm higher than the mean values in the German Synthetic Growth Curve, which serves as an internal standard. However, and most importantly, in comparison with the internal standard and historical normative data from Germany and Switzerland, there is a continuous increase in the 97th percentile for weight and BMI, while the third percentile remains unchanged. In addition, many children with short stature and tall stature due to a variety of endocrine disorders and genetic diseases which had not been diagnosed previously are now being identified. In conclusion, the databank allows for a continuous adaptation of normative curves based on a large number of children in a given population, i.e. eastern Germany. Secondly, the system allows for detection of pathological growth curves and is already serving to diagnose growth disorders in a defined population in a systematic way.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel