Association between head circumference and body size

Horm Res Paediatr. 2011;75(3):213-9. doi: 10.1159/000321192. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Background/aims: Studies on the association between head circumference (HC) and height or weight have shown variable results.

Methods: Using data from the Dutch nationwide survey performed in 1997 (n = 14,500), we calculated correlations for different ages, and fitted a regression model for the estimation of HC. HC versus height charts were created for different age groups. Data from children from other ethnic groups and children with various growth disorders were plotted on the charts and compared with reference data.

Results: Correlations between HC and height or weight showed similar patterns: highest at birth, followed by a rapid decline to a stable level and a peak in adolescence. On charts containing the regression line ±2 standard deviations for subjects aged 0-2 months and 2 months to 21 years, Turkish and Moroccan children, as well as children with idiopathic short stature and small for gestational age, had a normal HC for height, whereas children with an insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor defect or Sotos syndrome showed trends towards a smaller or larger HC for height, respectively.

Conclusion: HC correlates strongly with height and weight. The charts of HC for height may serve as an additional tool to interpret HC in short or tall children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Adult
  • Body Height / ethnology
  • Body Height / genetics
  • Body Size* / ethnology
  • Body Size* / genetics
  • Body Weight / ethnology
  • Body Weight / genetics
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / genetics
  • Growth Disorders / pathology
  • Head / growth & development*
  • Head / pathology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Male
  • Morocco / ethnology
  • Netherlands
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Young Adult