New Finnish growth references for children and adolescents aged 0 to 20 years: Length/height-for-age, weight-for-length/height, and body mass index-for-age

Ann Med. 2011 May;43(3):235-48. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2010.515603. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


Background and objectives: Growth curves require regular updates due to secular trends in linear growth. We constructed contemporary growth curves, assessed secular trends in height, and defined body mass index (BMI) cut-off points for thinness, overweight, and obesity in Finnish children.

Material and methods: Mixed cross-sectional/longitudinal data of 73,659 healthy subjects aged 0-20 years (born 1983-2008) were collected from providers in the primary health care setting. Growth references for length/height-for-age, weight-for-length/height, and BMI-for-age were fitted using generalized additive models for location, scale, and shape (GAMLSS). BMI percentile curves passing through BMIs 30, 25, 18.5, 17, and 16 kg/m(2) at the age of 18 years were calculated to define limits for obesity, overweight, and various grades of thinness.

Results: Increased length/height-for-age was seen in virtually all age-groups when compared to previous Finnish growth data from 1959 to 1971. Adult height was increased by 1.9 cm in girls and 1.8 cm in boys. The largest increases were seen during the peripubertal years: up to 2.8 cm in girls and 5.6 cm in boys. Median weight-for-length/height had not increased.

Conclusions: New Finnish references for length/height-for-age, weight-for-length/height, and BMI-for-age were constructed and should be implemented to monitor growth of children in Finland.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Growth Charts
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult