routinely use growth charts as a visual aid for parents when
discussing growth rates, do parents understand them? Several
organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and the World Health Organization, encourage parents to
partner with pediatricians in using the charts to track their
children’s growth patterns.
To determine whether parents really
understood growth chart data, authors of the study, “Do Parents Understand Growth Charts? National, Internet-Based Survey,” conducted an
online survey of 1,000 parents. Researchers at the Nemours Center for
Children’s Health Media and KidsHealth.org asked parents to identify a
child’s weight by looking at plotted points on a growth chart. Only
64 percent of respondents could correctly determine the child’s
weight. When looking at a combined height/weight measurement chart, up
to 77 percent incorrectly interpreted the data. Although parents do
want a method to help them understand how their child is growing, few
parents understand the growth chart in its current form.
teaching parents the complicated mathematical concepts of the current
growth charts, the study authors suggest clinicians and health
educators would do better by inviting parents to help redesign growth
charts or develop other techniques for helping parents understand
complex health concepts such as growth.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.