The percentili crescita you’re probably most familiar with are the curves on growth charts that show where a child’s height or weight ranks compared to other kids their age, sex and gender. Usually, the higher the percentile number, the better a kid is doing — as long as they continue to move up the curved lines of the chart over time.
But a high or low reading on a growth chart isn’t always a sign that something’s wrong, since a lot of a baby’s size is determined by genetics. Also, a baby’s growth is affected by many other factors, such as their activity level, current developmental period and nutrition.
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To calculate a child’s growth percentile, a pediatrician will measure a baby’s height or weight, then plot them on a chart based on the results from other children of their age and sex. The physician will then compare a baby’s measurements to the chart and report their result in terms of a percentile rank and a z-score, which is a more precise way to describe how far a measurement deviates from the norm.
Regardless of where a baby’s number falls on the chart, as long as they continue to move upward over time, their health is considered normal. However, it’s important to note that a sudden drop in a growth percentile can be a cause for concern and further testing may be needed. For example, if a boy’s height drops from the 50th to the 25th percentile, that could be a sign of a nutritional problem.