New child growth charts are being introduced to account for the difference between breast-fed and bottle-fed babies.
According to the Department of Health, babies fed on breast milk grow at a slower and steadier rate than babies who are bottle fed and the new charts show this differing development curve.
The previous charts were based predominantly on the growth rates expected from bottle-fed babies, which often caused concern among women who breast fed. Research has found that breast-fed babies are less likely to become obese in later life.
The charts, which have been launched to coincide with National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, are for babies and children up to four years old, and it is hoped they will help parents and healthcare professionals identify children at early risk of obesity.
Dr Sheila Shribman, national clinical director for children, young people and maternity, at the DH, said: ‘The new UK-WHO growth charts will help healthcare professionals and parents to identify early signs of overweight or obesity and provide support.’
She added that the charts, which have been developed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will also give more reliable predictions of a child’s adult height.