Objective: To determine current policies, resources, and attitudes to community growth screening in the United Kingdom.
Methods: A postal survey of community paediatricians and paediatric endocrinologists.
Results: 164 replies were received-most from senior clinical medical officers or community paediatricians-covering between 68 and 78% of the United Kingdom population. One hundred and thirty three (81%) trusts or districts had a written growth policy. Preschool and school age height screening took place in 75% and 81% of districts respectively, but most children were only measured once before school or at school. Policies for the age at which measurements were made and their frequency varied enormously. Seventy three per cent used standard equipment, the most popular being the Minimetre. A wide variety of charts were used, of which 23% were decimal age charts. A large number of referral criteria were used, including height, height velocity, and weight. Most children were referred to hospital outpatient clinics rather than specialist growth clinics.
Conclusions: Over 90% of respondents felt that growth screening was either extremely valuable or useful depending on resources. The survey showed a widespread lack of standardisation of equipment, charts, and policies. Referral criteria and objectives need to be clarified by research and audit, and growth monitoring integrated into a systematic programme of child health surveillance.