Baby growth charts to be redrawn

New child growth charts, which reflect the slower weight gain associated with breastfeeding, could be soon be adopted in England.

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Current UK growth charts are based on predominantly formula-fed babies, which tend to grow more quickly. It is estimated that if the new charts are adopted in the UK a quarter of all babies will be redefined as heavier than the norm.

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The new charts, which have been drawn up by the World Health Organization, have been backed in a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Although the charts are based on breastfed babies, they are designed to assess and monitor the growth of all babies. The expert report recommends that the WHO charts are used for babies aged 2 weeks to 24 months.

Babies who are breastfed gain weight at a slower rate than their formula-fed peers. Current evidence suggests that such a pattern of growth could potentially reduce the risk of later obesity.

It is hoped that adopting the new standards could stop breastfeeding mothers being worried about their babies apparently failing to put on weight fast enough.

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Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the feasibility of adopting the new charts would be assessed in a pilot study.

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