The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new pediatric growth charts to more accurately reflect patterns among breastfed babies. Current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards are based on 30-year-old calculations using the growth patterns of mostly formula-fed babies. In general, exclusively breastfed infants gain weight faster in the first 2 to 3 months. However, from 6 to 12 months, these babies tend to weigh less than their formula-fed counterparts.
Many nations are embracing the new standards, which are based on data drawn from six countries for more than 8,000 children raised with good nutrition and health care in non- smoking homes. The American Academy of Pediatrics is currently considering whether to include the WHO guidelines in new recommendations for well-child care to be released early next year, says Joseph F. Hagan Jr., chairman of the committee that is updating the guidelines. Hagan adds, "Both charts are good, as long as the pediatrician interpreting them understands their strengths and weaknesses."