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Childhood growth patterns depend on nutritional, health, and environmental conditions. In 1977, the US National Center for Health Statistics (a branch of the Center for Disease Control) developed sets of growth charts as a clinical tool for health professionals to determine if the growth of a child is adequate. These charts are now used widely around the world.

Height for example generally varies little between people compared to other measures. Final adult height may be attained anywhere from the early teens to early 20s. It is most commonly reached during the mid teens for girls and late teens for boys.

How to Use the Charts
On the bottom scale, find the age of the person. Let's say we're looking at the 'Stature for Age' chart for girls. The girl is 17 years old. Follow the verticle line upward until it crosses the horizontal line for her height, say 66" or 5.5 feet. Find the curve that is closest to this spot (example 1). These Percentile Curves are color coded and labeled. In our example, the curve closest to the person's age and height is the 75th percentile line. What that means is that the girl is taller than 75 percent of the girls her age. Twenty five percent of the girls her age are taller than she is. The average height (50th Percentile) for 17 to 20 year old girls is slightly over 64 inches or about 5'4".

Charts also exist for weight (see selection box above chart).

Note --
These charts are only generalized tools, and should not be considered to be more than that. If your child is over the 97th, under the 3rd percentile, or not following their curve, they may simply be special cases. Always consult your physician about any concerns.

Further information:

US CDC Growth Charts
BMI and More
CDC charts & explanation

American Heart Association
Overweight in Children
trends and what to do

Example 1

A 17 year old girl is 66 inches (5.5 feet) tall. She falls on the 75th Percentile curve, meaning she is taller than 75 percent of girls her age.