Term birthweight centiles for babies from New Zealand's main ethnic groups

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Oct;44(5):432-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2004.00273.x.


Background: There are significant differences in mean birthweights between New Zealand's main ethnic groups. Birthweight centiles developed predominantly from babies of European ethnicity may therefore not be appropriate to classify babies from other ethnic groups.

Aims: To develop ethnic specific birthweight centiles for New Zealand babies delivered at term (>37 weeks).

Methods: Births from the National Women's Hospital database from 1993 to 2000 who also had scan data at <24 weeks comprised the study population (n = 10 292). Multiple pregnancies, fetal abnormalities, stillbirths and preterm births were excluded. For six ethnic groupings, born at gestational weeks from 38 to 41, sex specific centiles were generated and smoothed.

Results: Birthweight centiles were constructed from 5203 European, 801 Maori, 825 Samoan, 577 Tongan, 1058 Chinese, 433 Indian and 1395 other ethnic group births. Mean birthweights by ethnic group were: European 3521 g, Maori 3467 g, Samoan 3691 g, Tongan 3791 g, Chinese 3418 g, Indian 3192 g and other 3466 g. Tongan and Samoan babies were significantly heavier and Indian babies were significantly lighter than babies from all other ethnic groups (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). Overall Maori babies were approximately 50 g lighter than European babies but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.08), whereas Chinese babies were significantly lighter with a mean birthweight 100 g less than European (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: These ethnic specific centile charts are likely to identify term babies with inappropriate growth better than population centiles generated predominantly from one ethnic group.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Body Height / ethnology
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • New Zealand