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Importance of Height Measurement

Height measurement is a fundamental component of “#Anthropometry”, which is the study of body dimensions and proportions. Height growth is not a consistent process and height increases rapidly during “growth spurts” in infancy (up to 6 months).

#Nutrition is an important reason that impacts height development, next to genetics.

Case in point, Sita and Gita are identical twins with significant growth differences. This is because height and weight are controlled by what you eat as well your DNA.

Malnutrition which represents both undernutrition and overnutrition is the major reason for stunting(low height for age). On average, 35.5% of kids under 5 years in India, suffer from stunting as per National Family Health Survey-5(NHFS-5).

Importance of Height measurement in children:

The height of children must be measured consistently, because of the following reasons

  • The assessment of a child's height is an important component of monitoring growth and development in children and can help identify potential growth defects or abnormalities

  • It helps to identify the presence of malnutrition

  • Low growth in children could indicate Growth hormone deficiency, #Hypothyroidism, Heart disease, Kidney ailment, Immunodeficiency disorders, #TurnerSyndrome

  • To assess and know, whether growth becomes stagnant in children after a specific age

  • To take appropriate measures at the right stage

Measurement of Length in Infants:

Since height cannot be measured for an infant in a standing position, height is referred to as the length in children less than 2 years of age.

  • The height in infants is measured as “Crown-to-heel length”

  • The child’s cloth, diaper, and ornaments are removed and the child is placed in the middle of the “#Infantometer”

  • The head is placed against the headboard and the footboard is moved to touch the soles of the baby

  • The height is noted down to the nearest millimetre

  • The height measurement can also be done using a measuring tape with the help of 2 people

Measurement of Height in Children:

  • To measure a child's height accurately, the measuring scale is typically fixed to the wall

  • The child is instructed to remove their footwear to get an accurate reading

  • The child is then asked to stand upright, facing forward, with their buttocks, shoulders, and back of the head touching the scale

  • It is important for the child to take a deep breath and stand as tall as possible to ensure accurate results

  • There are different ways to measure a child's height, including using a small flat scale or the measurer's hand. The scale or hand is placed perpendicular to the wall-mounted measuring scale and is positioned to touch the crown of the child's head. The reading is noted down to the nearest millimetre for accuracy

  • Another tool that can be used to measure a child's height is a ‘#Stadiometer’, which has a flat movable headpiece that makes it easier to take measurements.

What is Z-score?

The Z-score is a statistical measure that shows how far away an individual or value is from the mean or optimal value, in terms of standard deviations. Typically, in most datasets, 99% of the values fall within the range of a Z-score of -3 to 3.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a Z-score chart for height-for-age ratios. These charts provide the recommended height ranges for boys and girls separately, and there are different charts available for different age ranges, such as 0-6 months, 6 months-2 years, 2-5 years, and so on. Additionally, there is a combined chart available for children aged 0-5 years.

Now, let's take a look at the chart for 0-6 months in girls for deeper understanding.

The Chart indicates the Weeks/months on the x-axis, Length on the y-axis.

The green curve in the middle, with “0” represents the mean or median value, which refers to proper growth.

The chart displays Z-scores, which are represented by the values of 2, 3, -2, and -3

The chart does not show Z-scores for 1 and -1, but the corresponding values are present in the table format

The interpretation of the above chart in Table format

Thus growth can be measured and then, analysed with the help of the chart. It helps to decipher whether the values are appropriate.

The Z-scores indicate both undernutrition and overnutrition, which is expressed in the chart below:

For example, if an infant girl measures 53.5 cm, during its 13th week, it means that the infant is severely stunted or severely undernourished. If an infant girl measures 59.8 cm in tits 13th week, the infant’s growth is optimal. If an infant girl measures 66.1 cm in its 13th week, it means the infant has severe overgrowth.

Chart for 6 months to 2 years in boys:

This chart shows the appropriate values and deviation values for boys from 6 months to 2 years.

Interpretation of Values in Table format:

Similarly, there are charts for 2-5 years for boys and girls.

Now, let us have a look at the charts for 0-5 years chart for boys and girls.


Optimal height and size are major indicators of good health. There are no verified ways to increase height. Height also affects self-esteem and quality of life. The reasons for height abnormalities might be genetics, systemic illness, celiac disease, hormonal disorders or poor absorption of food. If the growth of the child is not optimal, it is essential to consult a doctor.

Images are © iHeal HealthTech Pvt Ltd and WHO



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