Child growth standards

Construction of the World Health Organization child growth standards

Selection of methods for attained growth curves

Borghi E, de Onis M, Garza C, Van den Broeck J, Frongillo EA, Grummer-Strawn L, Van Buuren S, Pan H, Molinari L, Martorell R, Onyango AW, Martines JC, for the WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study Group

Statistics in Medicine 2006;25(2):247-65


The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with a number of research institutions worldwide, is developing new child growth standards. As part of a broad consultative process for selecting the best statistical methods, WHO convened a group of statisticians and child growth experts to review available methods, develop a strategy for assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss methodological issues likely to be faced in the process of constructing the new growth curves. To select the method(s) to be used, the group proposed a two-stage decision-making process.

First, to select a few relevant methods based on a list of set criteria and, second, to compare the methods using available tests or other established procedures. The group reviewed 30 methods for attained growth curves. Using the pre-defined criteria, a few were selected combining five distributions and two smoothing techniques. Because the number of selected methods was considered too large to be fully tested, a preliminary study was recommended to evaluate goodness of fit of the five distributions. Methods based on distributions with poor performance will be eliminated and the remaining methods fully tested and compared.