New International Standards Issued for Fetal Growth/Newborn Size

The first accurate measurements of ideal growth and developments from conception to birth depicting a healthy pattern of growth desirable for all fetuses and newborns regardless of ethnic origin have been published in The Lancet.

The first accurate measurements of ideal growth and developments from conception to birth depicting a healthy pattern of growth desirable for all fetuses and newborns regardless of ethnic origin have been published in the September 6, 2014, issue of The Lancet.

Presently, healthcare practitioners have international growth standards published by the World Health Organization (WHO) for children from birth up to age 5. However, these new international standards will allow healthcare practitioners around the world to have international standards for the developing fetus and newborn as well. Thus, they will know when nutrition and healthcare needs of developing babies are not being met, helping to identify signs of undernutrition, stunting, and wasting, and overweight at an earlier stage, in order to implement preventive actions to reduce long-term health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to the publications of these new growth and size charts, fetal growth and newborn size were evaluated around the world using over 100 different locally produced growth charts that describe only how children grew in a particular population or region at a given time rather than how a baby show grow when mothers have adequate health, nutrition, and socioeconomic status. This led to inaccurate diagnoses and ultimately unnecessary or inappropriate treatment.

The project, known as INTERGROWTH-21st Project, collected data from 8 diverse populations of babies born to 4,607 healthy, well-nourished women in selected urban areas in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, the United Kingdom, and the United States between 2009 and 2013. The studies were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.