BMI as an indicator of proper child development

The Body Mass Index (BMI) shows whether a child’s development is going well. In order to check this, periodic follow-ups with the pediatrician are necessary.

Currently, there are charts that show that a child’s development is being correct, both from the point of view of weight and height. However, from a nutritional point of view, the body mass index (BMI) is used in pediatrics. This index correlates weight with height and age by using a formula that is weight divided by height squared. The value resulting from this formula is compared in a table that differentiates males and females and correlates with age.

Normal patterns of childhood growth

There are certain patterns that indicate that infant growth is proceeding correctly. For example, at 6 months of age, birth weight usually doubles and by one year of age, it usually triples. If growth patterns are not normal, it is possible that there is an organic problem preventing it.

Growth in weight and height occurs regularly until the onset of preadolescence. In girls 11-12 years of age, there is a significant increase in both weight and height. This causes girls to appear older than boys in the same school year. It is at this time that many of the girls already show the change and have their first menstruation (menarche). However, the significant increase in weight and height in boys does not occur until 13-14 years of age. Around age 18, both boys and girls stop growing; provided there is no delayed bone age.

Pediatric follow-up

Follow-up with the pediatrician should be done from birth. Thus, from the first moment, weight, height and BMI are monitored. The pediatric controls that every healthy child should have are the following: at 15 days after birth, at one month, at two months, at four months, at six months and at one year. After the first year of life, check-ups should be performed at 15 months, 18 months, 2-3 years, 5, 11 and 14 years of age. In these pediatric check-ups, the child’s development is assessed, its functions are evaluated and the corresponding vaccination for the period is carried out.

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If the child’s growth is not adequate or if there is a pathology that requires it, pediatric check-ups may be more frequent. In these cases, the follow-up is individualized for a greater and better control of the child.

Treatments to follow if a child is not growing enough

When a child is observed to be growing inadequately, the first thing to do is to carry out an exhaustive examination to rule out any organic pathology that could justify this growth delay. It is important to evaluate the height of the parents, because if they are short, it is justified that their child is also short.

Once any organic pathology has been ruled out, a left carpal radiograph is taken (if the child is right-handed) to assess bone age. If the child has a delayed bone age, it means that he/she will grow behind his/her peers; but when they stop growing, they will continue to grow until they catch up.

It is very important, from the analytical point of view, to evaluate the growth hormone. The test will have to be done in exercise for it to be measurable. If the test result indicates a growth hormone deficiency, growth hormone can be administered exogenously at high cost. Fortunately, cases of growth hormone deficiency are rare. In no case should growth hormone be administered to normal children who are too short to grow.