Growth Assessment: Well-Child Health Care Fact Sheet
Screening tests to identify health conditions that might need further assessment are an important part of well-child health care. In this fact sheet, Head Start health managers, health staff, and disability coordinators will find a concise description of the screening for growth assessment.
What is growth assessment?
Growth assessment measures a child's height, weight, and head circumference (for infants). Growth is a sign of a child's overall physical and emotional health.
How is growth assessment done?
Growth is measured by a health care provider or Head Start staff. A wall-mounted height measure, balance-beam scale, and tape measure are used.
The child's measurements are recorded on a standardized growth chart.
- Compared to other children the same age and sex to give a "percentile"
- Followed over time to give a "growth curve"
What might I observe?
A child may appear...
- Very short, thin, large, or overweight
- Too thin or too heavy for his height
- To have his head too large or small for his body
Follow-up to growth assessment
The parents' height/weight and race are taken into account to determine the child's "normal" growth.
A child should be referred to his health care provider for further evaluation for:
- Height or weight below 5th or above 95th percentile
- Head circumference below 2nd or above 98th percentile
- Failure to grow along the growth curve
Causes of growth problems might include:
- Improper nutrition-not enough, too much, or unhealthy foods
- Serious medical illness
- Severe family problems
Treatment might include:
- Nutritional counseling and dietary supplements
- Treatment of medical conditions causing the growth problem
- Mental health counseling/consultation for the child, family, and staff
When growth problems are identified and treated early, the child's health and well-being are improved.
Growth Assessment: Well-Child Health Care Fact Sheet. Well-Child Health Care: Making It Happen. DHHS/ACF/ACYF/HSB. 1998. English.
Last Reviewed: February 2009
Last Updated: May 26, 2015