Growth charts of human development

Stat Methods Med Res. 2014 Aug;23(4):346-68. doi: 10.1177/0962280212473300. Epub 2013 Mar 12.


This article reviews and compares two types of growth charts for tracking human development over age. Both charts assume the existence of a continuous latent variable, but relate to the observed data in different ways. The D-score diagram summarizes developmental indicators into a single aggregate score measuring global development. The relations between the indicators should be consistent with the Rasch model. If true, the D-score is a measure with interval scale properties, and allows for the calculation of meaningful differences both within and across age. The stage line diagram describes the natural development of ordinal indicators. The method models the transition probabilities between successive stages of the indicator as smoothly varying functions of age. The location of each stage is quantified by the mid-P-value. Both types of diagrams assist in identifying early and delayed development, as well as finding differences in tempo. The relevant techniques are illustrated to track global development during infancy and early childhood (0-2 years) and Tanner pubertal stages (8-21 years). New reference values for both applications are provided.

Keywords: Bayley scale; D-score diagram; Tanner stages; age continuity; gain score; references; stage line diagram.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Growth Charts*
  • Human Development*
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Reference Values