Revised birth centiles for weight, length and head circumference in the UK-WHO growth charts

Ann Hum Biol. 2011 Jan;38(1):7-11. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2011.544139.


Background: The adoption in May 2009 by the UK of the WHO 2006 standard necessitated the provision of UK-based birth centiles for pre-term infants. The pre-existing British 1990 reference birth centiles, used in the UK since 1995, had been biased by the inclusion of post-natal data.

Aim: To describe the construction of new UK birth centiles for weight, length and head circumference, based on British 1990 reference data, but excluding post-natal data.

Subjects and methods: Birth data from the five original studies, collected between 1983-1993, were pooled and analysed by the LMS method, for the sexes separately. In addition, sex-specific composite centiles were constructed for infants born at term (37-42 completed weeks).

Results: The birth data included 9443 weights, 985 lengths and 1841 head circumferences, covering 23-44 weeks gestation. The analysis provided LMS tables defining reference centiles for weight and head circumference from 23-42 weeks and for length from 26-42 weeks. The term centiles are for use at age 0 on the post-natal 0-1 year chart.

Conclusion: These new centiles, replacing those of the British 1990 reference, are more accurate than their predecessors which were biased due to the inclusion of post-natal data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Height*
  • Cephalometry
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetus
  • Gestational Age
  • Growth Charts*
  • Head / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Physical Examination
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values
  • United Kingdom
  • World Health Organization*