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Differences in growth of Canadian children compared to the WHO 2006 Child Growth Standards

Park AL, Tu K, Ray JG; Canadian Curves Consortium. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2017; Jul 11 [Epub ahead of print].

Background — To evaluate if there are departures from the WHO Child Growth Standards (WHO-CGS) in postnatal growth of healthy “Canadian” children in Ontario up to age 2 years, including by infant feeding and ethnicity.

Methods — We included data on 9964 healthy, singleton children born in Ontario, Canada. Smoothed weight, length and body mass index (BMI) percentile curves were generated using quantile regression for the Canadian cohort from birth to age 2 years. Differences in percentile values were calculated comparing Canadian children vs the WHO-CGS.

Results — Canadian children under age 2 years were longer than the WHO-CGS at the 10th (0.8 cm), 50th (1.3 cm) and 90th (1.9 cm) percentiles. Canadian children incrementally surpassed the WHO-CGS in weight after age 6 months, and in BMI after 9 months. By age 2 years, the 50th percentile weight of Canadian males was 823 g (95% confidence interval (CI) 680, 965) higher than the WHO-CGS 50th percentile. Weight differences were seen regardless of feeding practice, and were greatest among children of mothers born in Canada and Europe/Western nations, and least for those of East Asian/Pacific or South Asian heritage. Among Canadian breastfed males, 18% (95% CI 16, 19) of newborns and 26% (95% CI 20, 33) toddlers aged 2 years were classified by WHO-CGS as weighing > 90th percentile -- much higher than the expected rate of 10%. Similarities were seen for differences in BMI.

Conclusions — Healthy Canadian infants/toddlers are longer and heavier than the WHO-CGS norms. Explanations for these discrepancies require further elucidation.

Keywords: Obstetrics Pediatric health