Principles of normal growth

Growth is a critical indicator of child health and its importance is recognized by the World Health Organization, which identifies growth assessment as the best single measure for defining the nutritional status and health of children, as well as being an indicator of quality of life in whole populations (Hall, 1996).

Normal growth is a sign of good health, and ill children often grow slowly. Growth in children is not simply an increase in height and weight, but is a complex process involving increases in both the size and number of cells. It is influenced by genetic factors, but a number of other factors are also relevant, including nutrition, and these may act to prevent the individual achieving his or her genetic potential. Measurement of growth indicators, such as weight, height and head circumference can give valuable information about a child's nutritional well-being and growth pattern.

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