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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Underweight baby?

Question: My 10-month-old breastfed son is healthy and active. According to the growth charts used by our paed, he is in the 70th percentile for height and the 2nd percentile for weight. The paed is not concerned about his weight; he nurses five times a day and eats lots of solids. Unfortunately, my mother, who bottle-fed with fervor, is constantly clucking about my son being "underweight." Are there any growth charts based on the growth of breastfed babies?

Answer: New growth charts, developed in 2000, are recommended for routine monitoring of growth in infants, children and adolescents. Unlike their predecessors, these new growth charts finally take into account both formula-fed and breastfed infants, since breastfed infants may grow differently in the first year of life.

In addition, these growth charts include information on the average body mass index for children between the ages of 2 and 20 -- giving pediatricians another weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.

It is important to keep in mind that growth charts are just one tool at our disposal. A hands-on evaluation of your baby, including a good history, provide much more insight into your baby's growth than any chart can on it's own.

What is important when evaluating your baby's height and weight on the current growth charts is whether or not weight gain and growth has been consistent. It is not abnormal for a baby's growth to occur in spurts, but it is a red flag when your baby's growth starts crossing over the percentiles.

It sounds like your baby's pediatrician understands that all babies do not grow at the same rate. There can be much variation in the growth of normal, healthy babies.

If your pediatrician is content with his health and pattern of growth and you also feel comfortable with it, stop worrying about what your mother thinks. Maybe you could bring her along on your baby's next visit to the pediatrician. This visit might be enough to help her rest her mind and begin to see just how healthy her grandson is.

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